Whooping Cough Worries: I’m Going Helicopter

There are a lot of things to be anxious about as a modern mom.  Half my day is spent worrying about one thing or another, it seems. Are we going to get salmonella poisoning from peanut butter? Run out of disposable diapers because of a worldwide shortage? Are my airline seats going to be unhinged on our next family flight?

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And now you can add one more thing to my worry list, a pretty serious disease: whooping cough.

News reports are claiming an increase in the disease pertussis, commonly called “whooping cough.”  I know, this sounds so 19th century, but it’s actually real and happening now.  And apparently, we aren’t prepared.  Many adults don’t even know they need a booster shot and even if they do get this booster, it can wear off over time.  I didn’t know until I recently went to the doctor that I even needed a booster, and I try to stay informed about this stuff.

Of course there’s the whole debate over vaccinating children that continues to rage, and some parents choose to not vaccinate at all.  I do choose to vaccinate my children but this isn’t allaying my concerns over whooping cough… here’s why:

An adult or older child who had the vaccine while young could actually get a mild version of whooping cough manifesting itself as a bad cold and not know it. Sneaky, right?  And what’s even scarier is that whooping cough in adults can be passed along to an infant who isn’t yet fully vaccinated. Young babies can get really sick from whooping cough.  In some cases, this disease can even be fatal.

So it seems to me that the doctors are right in saying that anyone caring for an infant should definitely get the vaccine.  And go ahead; call me Mrs. Helicopter Parent, but I might start asking grandparents and babysitters if they are up to date on the vaccine. Add that to my “to do” list.  I’m going to be so popular!

“We’re looking forward to seeing you at Thanksgiving, Mom and Dad!  I’ll bring the pecan pie, but just make sure before I arrive that you seniors are up to date on your booster shots!”  Can you imagine? They’re still laughing at me over the car seats and safety gates, and now this?

But this is an important issue, so to me it’s a good reminder to ask your kids’ doctor and your own if booster shots are in order, for whooping cough and while you’re at it, for tetanus too.

There are times when I just feel you can’t be careful enough.  As I said, on this one, I prefer to go the “helicopter” route.