Marygrace’s Story (Whooping Cough)

When our daughter, Marygrace, was 2 months old, she got whooping cough. Her illness started normally enough. She had a cough, but that really didn’t worry us because Marygrace had always been a healthy baby. The cough just kept getting worse, and it was so persistent; that’s when we started to worry.

One day her coughing fits got so bad that she couldn’t breathe; she was turning purple and vomiting. We took her to the doctor and he immediately sent us to the hospital. It was there that the doctors told us she had whooping cough (pertussis). We were shocked. We thought whooping cough was a thing of the past. But since then we learned that whooping cough cases have actually been increasing in this country for decades.

While at the hospital, we were informed that Marygrace probably caught this from someone whose immunity had lapsed – an adult. This news was really devastating to us. We had no idea we were putting her at risk. We never knew that any adult she came in contact with whose immunity had lapsed was a potential danger. Marygrace was in the hospital for nearly a week. It was a terrible time for us, but luckily, she’s home now and healthy again.

We were told that we must both get a booster pertussis shot. And in fact, that’s when we learned that every adult 64 years of age or younger who comes in contact with an infant should get vaccinated. This proved more difficult than we had expected, because our doctor did not have the vaccine available in his office. But we convinced him to order it, because we knew firsthand the importance of receiving our immunization. Once we found access, the process was quick and easy and gave us peace of mind. We didn’t give up until we both were protected.

Babies can’t begin their vaccination series for whooping cough until they’re 2 months old. This leaves our youngest, most vulnerable unprotected. That’s why it is up to the people around infants to be sure that they are vaccinated.

We made sure everyone around Marygrace got vaccinated. That included us, our family, friends and neighbors. And now I tell anyone who is in contact with an infant to get vaccinated.

Michele and James Reilly
Parents of Marygrace
Long Island, NY