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Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

People of all ages can become ill with pertussis and some can become very sick. Children younger than 6 months of age are the most vulnerable to serious illness and even hospitalization if they develop pertussis. The most effective prevention against pertussis is vaccination. Vaccination of household members and other close family and friends helps protect infants. Pregnant women should receive a Tdap, the pertussis booster vaccine, during each pregnancy to help decrease the chances of the baby being exposed to pertussis. Babies and young infants are further protected when both parents, caregivers, siblings and healthcare workers stay up to date on pertussis vaccinations. California schools require that all students entering 7th grade provide proof of receiving Tdap.

Pertussis begins with the symptoms of a cough and runny nose for 1-2 weeks followed by weeks of coughing fits. Fever is not usually seen unlike most other respiratory illnesses. People with symptoms should see their health care provider for testing, diagnosis and potential treatment.

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