Babies are required to get a vaccine that protects against Whooping Cough because even though an adult could have the disease and think it's just an ugly cough that won't go away, the disease could kill an infant if it's passed on to them.
You see, just because you get the Whooping Cough vaccine as a child, it doesn't mean you won't get the disease later. The vaccine is very effective until about age seven when its potency begins to wear down.
That's why the Food and Drug Administration is considering clearing the way now for a booster shot to protect older children from getting Whooping Cough and possibly passing it to an infant who could die from it. The Centers for Disease Control says Whooping Cough has jumped from 9,700 cases in 2002 to 11,000 cases in 2003, and officials are concerned there are more cases that have gone undetected.
The bottom line is to make sure your child gets all the recommended vaccines on time. Parents are also encouraged to keep children, especially infants, away from anyone else who is coughing.
Whooping Cough is a contagious bacterial infection that is fatal in about 1% of infected infants under age four. In adults, symptoms can vary, but the illness is characterized by a forceful cough that causes vomiting in about a third of patients.