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A few things we learned from our vaccinated daughter contracting whooping cough

I tend to shy away from highly controversial subjects in such a public forum.  I’m always up for a good discussion about most things, but I realize I can be easily misunderstood in this format.

{And this is NOT normally the type of post I put on this blog.  If you want to see what kind of beneficial things we usually talk about around here, click HERE and I hope you’ll join this incredible community}

Regardless, I feel the need to share a few things we learned from our 9 year old daughter having a confirmed case of whooping cough.  She has been vaccinated.

It started as a mild cough.  Just at night.  No big deal.  It progressively worsened in the evenings and throughout the night, disrupting her sleep.  It continued to get worse, lasting through the night AND day.  She had NO fever.  No cold symptoms.  NO WHOOPING sound when she coughed.

I thought it was allergies.  Or maybe asthma.  I had a doctor listen to her lungs for signs of asthma.  She sounded fine.

After about 3 weeks of this progressively unrelenting cough, I finally took her to her pediatrician.  After an initial exam, my doctor said she needed to be tested for whooping cough.

My response “But she’s been vaccinated”.

Because we live in an area  where increasing numbers of people are not being vaccinated, and because whooping cough vaccines can start to wear off between the ages of 9 and 11, there was a chance she had it.

So we tested.


(at the beach after she was done with antibiotics but still unable to function much)

The next morning my doctor called first thing and said she indeed had a confirmed case of whooping cough.  She missed school for a week while she was on antibiotics.  She was also on an inhaler and steroids for her lungs.  She had already been going to school for the past TWO WEEKS while she had it because we had NO IDEA it was even a possibility.

The health department called and asked me a bunch of questions.  We e-mailed all our friends, family, church members, and entire neighborhood.  A lot of people panicked.  And rightly so.  I answered a LOT of phone calls and e-mails.

Thankfully no one else we had been in contact with got it (as far as we know).  We were all lucky.

When the doctor told us she could have the cough for up to 100 days, I teared up.  ONE HUNDRED DAYS???

The cough is hard, persistent, and unrelenting.  Her biggest complaint was a sore throat from coughing so hard.  She coughed so hard she threw up for the first few weeks.  She couldn’t breath several times.  My husband and I took turns sleeping in the same room with her.  That lasted for well over a month.

I remember riding in the car with her during the week she was home from school.  She was coughing and coughing and coughing.  But she rarely complained.  I told her how sorry I was she had to go through this.  But I also told her that because of what she was going through, I had the opportunity to teach a lot of people about whooping cough.  And dozens of people I knew (adults) went and got their whooping cough booster shots.  And because of that, lives would certainly be saved.  She smiled at that.

Whooping Cough (also known as pertussis) is not generally fatal to 9 year olds.  But it is absolutely fatal to newborns who have not had the chance to get the vaccine as well as immunocompromised individuals.  When I first found out my daughter had it, I was sick to my stomach about who we may have exposed.  What if I had a newborn in my home?  What if we had been around someone else’s newborn and unknowingly exposed them?  Or my neighbor who is immunocompromised?

We did everything we were supposed to do and she still got it.

So.  I wanted to share a few things we learned and hopefully stop the spread of whooping cough.

1.  Whooping cough is a VACCINE preventable disease.  Meaning if we ALL get the vaccine, whooping cough starts to go away.

2.  The whooping cough vaccine differs from many other vaccines because it wears off.  So you have to keep getting it.  Small kids get several rounds of the whooping cough shot.  They get it again when they are around 11 or 12 (because it starts to wear off).  And ADULTS NEED TO GET A BOOSTER.  If you haven’t had one in the last 5 years, you’re due for another one.  And if you have any chance of being around a newborn, you NEED to get the booster.

3.  Immunizations are not 100% effective.  Immunity is not “either/or” but more accurately “more or less”.  Meaning you aren’t definitely immune, but the potency will be less if you were to contract the disease.   Vaccine’s are designed to increase your immunity to various diseases.  And again, if everyone vaccinates, the disease starts to go away.

4.  Studies linking autism to vaccine’s need to be looked at with great care.  From my understanding and research, they have no validity and many have been explicitly proved wrong.  But, coming from a friend who has a child on the autism spectrum as well as a child who died from a vaccine preventable disease, she said she’d take an autistic child over putting a child in the ground any day.  

5.  No man is an island.  Meaning the decisions we all make affect all the people around us.  So.  If you choose not to vaccinate your children, that is obviously your choice.  But it DOES affect all the people around you.  If everyone in my community was vaccinated for whooping cough, the disease would essentially leave my community and wouldn’t be an issue.  But because many people are choosing not to vaccinate, the disease lingers.  And when my kids vaccine starts to wear off, she is susceptible to picking up the disease from the community where it still lingers. Relying on everyone else around you to vaccinate so you don’t have to seems a bit unfair to me.  What happens if we ALL stop vaccinating?

6.  Whooping cough does indeed last 100 days.  And it sucks.  BIG TIME.  My daughter literally coughed for at least 100 days.  And it lingered even longer than that when she did anything active.  Like run 10 feet.  She’d burst into coughing fits.  Did I say it sucks?  It does.  Bad.  I can’t even imagine how horrifying it would have been if she were at risk for death.

7.  Whooping cough does NOT ALWAYS HAVE THE WHOOPING SOUND.  My daughter did not whoop when she coughed.  So if you have a persistent cough not associated with asthma or allergies, GET CHECKED.

8.  If you have a newborn, KEEP THEM HOME.  I know it’s SO hard to stay home, but infants can’t get their first whooping cough vaccine until they are 8 weeks old.  If you can keep them home as much as possible until at least then (and even longer if possible), I highly recommend you do.  And don’t feel bad not letting unvaccinated people around your baby.  I asked all the adults in my family go get their whooping cough boosters before they were allowed to hold any of my infants.  I didn’t feel one bit bad about that.

9.  If you have a child between the ages of 9 and 11 and they develop a persistent cough, call your pediatrician.  If they say it’s nothing but your parental intuition tells you otherwise, get them checked just to be sure.

Hopefully some of these things we learned will help others with their decisions to vaccinate.  I realize it’s not an easy decision and it’s REALLY hard to know what information is accurate on the Internet.  I think we all do the best we can with the information we have.


{And please remember that many people will obviously disagree with each other on this subject and think the information they have is truth, but there’s no need to call each other names (you’re stupid, you’re an idiot, you’re a troll, etc. etc.) when we disagree.  Please keep the comments kind.}

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  • .Alicia

    My then 7 year old daughter (also vaccinated) contracted whooping cough last winter. Reading your post was like reliving it again! So hard to watch your little one suffer–lack of sleep, throwing up every morning, missing school simply because she felt so horrible. And indeed it did last at least 100 days. Bless your sweet little girl!ReplyCancel

  • I know this is a lot of information to digest, but if you read through it and research it you’ll realize you’ve been duped.


  • The Atomic Mom

    Thank you for saying this! I hope your daughter is feeling better. And I hope you’ve changed someone’s mind out there. My Grandmother grew up in the days if the frontier, and before the whooping cough vaccine was invented. She always said you would NEVER deny that to you child if you had to sit and hold a child as they coughed themselves, literally, to death with pertussis. Thank you, thank you, thank you!ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      I’m not sure it will change anyone’s mind. Seems like once someone’s mind is made up on this subject, they’re pretty set in what they believe. But it may help someone who hasn’t made their mind up yet. Thanks so much for taking time to comment.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica

    One other point you can add is that pregnant women are now recommended to receive the TDaP vaccination during the third trimester of each pregnancy, no matter how close the pregnancies are. This will transfer some immunity to the newborn in the interim before they are able to get their first vaccination!


  • Rachel Whetten

    Thanks for sharing. We just went through this with our 2 yr old last spring who also had been vaccinated. They definitely don’t work 100% of the time but I do accredit her vaccine to helping her case not be worse than it was, though it was still terrible (many times waking up unable to take a breath at all for 30+ seconds because the mucus was so thick. We had her checked at the Dr for her two year checkup and her cough was only at night at that time. I had asked the doctor about pertussis because it was going around our boys school in the 4th and 5th grade. He immediately said no she’s vaccinated she’s good. After another few days I asked a Dr friend if we could demand she be tested because I felt that might be what she had . He said to bring her to the pediatrician at his clinic. We did and had her tested and started on antibiotics right away just to be safe and the found out it was positive the next day and the entire family then had to go on antibiotics since we now all had been exposed. I was truly grateful for the info I knew about pertussis thanks to childhood friend Natalie Norton. Because of her I was able to recognize it even when a Dr didnt. I also had to deal with talked to the health department and all their questions. Was so grateful we had spent most of our time at home away from others leading up to this. The illness Sucks! And it’s scary and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Felt do bad my sweet daughter didn’t understand what was going on and it scared her at times. Vaccines are so important! I’m grateful we have vaccinated our kids even if it didn’t work 100%. Thanks for sharing your thoughts it echoed my own.ReplyCancel

  • ShannonH

    Thank you! This is amazingly informative and timely. My heart aches for your family’s struggle. And my heart soars for the brave and fantastic step you’ve taken here to share and inform. We have been blessed with so much knowledge and the ability to use it wisely, and this gift of words shared here can open eyes and hearts. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Mindi Allen

    I loved this. We just went through this with our baby. At 4 months she started coughing. Long story short, after a month of having her checked, being on steroids for her lungs we finally took her to a third doctor. Whooping cough. Our baby also had no symptoms, like your daughter. Worst 2 months of our lives. And we were all vaccinated as well. We live in the Boise area, and like you, people are starting to not vaccinate.
    Thank you for this article.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      So glad she was okay Mindi. It’s SO scary when a baby gets whooping cough. It can easily lead to death.ReplyCancel

  • Parent

    So I have a few questions: (By the way I think you did a great job on the article)

    You said that vaccines are not 100% but then said that if everyone got the vaccine: “And again, if everyone vaccinates, we can eradicate the deadly disease.”

    How can this be? This is very contradictory.

    You then said: “If you choose not to vaccinate your children, that is obviously your choice. But it DOES affect all the people around you.”

    Do you know from where your child got the whopping cough? If I don’t vaccinate my child and my child never gets a disease, am I really affecting “all the people around me”?

    I too believe that you should do your research and after you have done your research make a decision. However, you can’t say someone has made the wrong choice if they feel in their heart that they have made the “right” choice for them.

    I have a friend who had 2 children die within a week of getting vaccinated. I think she would take an unvaccinated child over putting then in the ground anyday.

    Just some perspective I wanted to share.ReplyCancel

  • Marilyn Johnson

    Fun time of year.ReplyCancel

  • Necia Christensen

    Our granddaughter came home yesterday from her mission with whooping cough. She looks so wiped out and frail.ReplyCancel

  • Shelly Pope

    The same thing happened with my 16 year old son. He had no fever, no whoop just what seemed to be a cold with a cold that lasted and lasted. His cough wasn’t even a hard cough, just at night before bed and in the morning. As we were leaving the doctor’s office, the doc said, “Do you want to do a whooping cough test, just in case.” I wasn’t going to but felt it was better to rule it out. He was positive! We all had to be quarantined and on antibiotics. I tried to let the CDC know that doctors should be told to test for all coughs, without standard whooping cough symptoms. They did nothing. I even talked with my doc about it, but I had to send a friend and her kids back to her doctor, same doctor, to request a test because of symptoms like my son’s. She ended up with 3-4 kids having it! Parents need to know it wears off. They need to know it can kill little ones. Thanks for getting the word out. I learned a lot and tried to educate others too during our experience.ReplyCancel

  • Oh I just feel so bad for your daughter! I honestly didn’t know that much about whooping cough, so once we find a dr, I’m going to get my booster.
    I actually wrote a similar post (though without the personal heartache) about why WE choose to vaccine – the benefits far outweigh the possible negatives.ReplyCancel

  • Sickofthebullshit

    This piece is wrong on so many levels! Blatant lies! Whooping cough can NEVER be eradicated! Even the CDC stated that. If you are a real parent of a child that had whooping cough then you’ve been misled and misinformed. Just another troll I believe. Troll on!ReplyCancel

  • Thank you for sharing this. We need more advocates for vaccines on the internet!ReplyCancel

  • I'm sure you'll delete this

    Where to begin.. so much bad information..

    Whooping cough is NOT a vaccine preventable disease. At best under their own research and this rate drops every year it has a 50% chance of warding it off.

    Having a cough versus the horrors that can be caused from a vaccine.. are not comparable. Not anywhere close to imaginable.. like death. No 9 year old has died from whooping cough. I would much rather my kid have a cough than something that could permanently disable a child in a really horrific way or death.

    Yes, it HAS been proven vaccines DO cause autism. #hearmewell #cdcwhistleblower. There are over a hundred studies that show they can cause damage.. and the cdc only had one study they relied on which they lied about and it proved it DOES cause autism by a 340% increase.. and that’s not even the one with mercury.

    unvaccinated children are not secretly hoarding whooping cough. It has been scientifically proven to be in 90% of VACCINATED children. Most likely they get it from the shot itself. Why else do you think all children suddenly magically get sick september 10th? It’s because kids are shedding from their not really mandated shots.

    Why would anyone take a newborn out? Why would anyone sick go and visit a newborn? Common sense.

    I’m sorry but you are so so so off and wrong. It’s a cough. It’s not the end of the world.. chances are 90% of the population has had it. Everyone’s had that lingering cough over the winter.. it was probably whooping cough. Dr’s don’t test for it normally because ITS NO BIG DEAL.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      As with most important topics in life we can all do our research and come up with VERY different opinions. I totally respect that other people will have different opinions from me. Just sharing what I feel is good to share. And I am not ignorant that there are risks associated with getting vaccines. For me, I think the risks of NOT getting vaccinated are greater than the risks of getting vaccinated.
      My friends baby DIED from whooping cough. So it isn’t just a cough and it is a VERY big deal to me. I wasn’t worried about MY daughter dying, but I was definitely worried about newborns or immunocompromised people she may have exposed.
      Not trying to guilt trip anyone. Just sharing what I feel was important to share. We can certainly disagree without attacking one another.ReplyCancel

  • Not One more

    Sorry it makes me mad you are insensitive.. you’re tearing up over a cough while children getting shots are dead. DEAD. You may not be on the facebook feeds showing dead babies in funeral garb. I highly recommend you open your eyes. And you are trying to guilt trip the parents.. yeah… no..ReplyCancel

  • calliflower

    Hi, thanks for posting this. I have been deliberating whether or not to have the whooping cough vaccine during pregnancy, and this article has made my mind up that I definitely am! Thanks so muchReplyCancel

    • Issa


      I highly recommend doing more reading on this matter before you get any vaccination during pregnancy. Read my post below. If you want more info, I’d be happy to send some to you.ReplyCancel

  • Mike Scott

    Dear Miss Lindsay Ross,

    We too fought this crap thing called whooping cough. Our 3.5 year old daughter **that had been vaccinated** contracted it from someone. This is the worst PREVENTABLE illness that I have come across. When your child coughs so hard that they throw up, it just breaks your heart every time. After our daughter’s diagnosis of whooping cough she then contracted a cold from one of our other kids. That made the whooping cough so much worse. We went from 5-6 cough fits a night to 50 – 60 coughing fits a night. She. Could. Not. Sleep. The antibiotics that you are given to treat the illness do nothing to make the symptoms better they just make it not contagious. We even had to have an x-ray of our daughter’s lungs because we were afraid the whooping cough had turned into pneumonia. The radiologist said he could see the damage that had been done to her lungs by the whooping cough. We asked him how long that would take to heal and he said probably 6 months!! Thank God no pneumonia though.

    We knew we were in trouble when our pediatrician finally relented and said we could try a cough suppressant and it did NOTHING!

    There is absolutely no reason not to get your kids vaccinated.

    If you are an adult GET YOURSELF VACCINATED. If you are going to come into contact with kids, especially newborns, get the vaccine. It takes 2 weeks for the vaccine to become fully effective. Most insurance plans pay 100% for the vaccine.


    • ltross17

      So sorry to hear about your daughter Mike. It’s SO much more than a cough. It’s horrifying to watch and live through. Especially if your daughter was that young. Glad to hear she’s okay now.ReplyCancel

  • Tracy Giles

    We had the same thing happen to us, except my daughter was 7! She had been vaccinated and still got it. We discovered it really fast though because she was making the whooping sound. However, it didn’t sound like I thought it would. The doctor had to tell me that was the whooping sound. Interesting. It lasted so long. There were so many sleepless nights. Glad your daughter is ok.ReplyCancel

  • ashley

    So your vaccinated daughter got a preventable illness…. lol no logic. But good job with your scare tactics.ReplyCancel

  • Michele

    If you are so positive that vaccines work, then why didn’t you get your daughter the booster? Don’t blame others for you failing to get your child the booster shot, since you are so convinced that vaccines work.

    Did it ever occur to you or have you ever done the research that viruses can mutate and change; therefore becoming a totally different strand than the vaccine is given for?

    I understand you are trying to protect people from this sickness however your comments are opinion and panic based. You have not done the proper research.

    I am sorry this happened to your child, must have been horrible, but do not blame the unvaccinated community for this….that is naieve and pure stupidity. Again, if you are so convinced that vaccines work, then be more on top of your boosters. You can only be responsible for yourself and your family. And….do your research!ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Not panic based at all. Just sharing some things I learned. I wasn’t intending to place blame. Nor do I think I am niaeve or stupid. Booster shots in children aren’t given until they are about to enter the 7th grade. Which is 3 years from when my daughter caught whooping cough. I WAS on top of her boosters. Hers either wore off or she was more susceptible to catching it. Could have caught it from someone else who was vaccinated. It’s a lot more complicated than I could explain in one post.
      And I’ve done plenty of research. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • […] a few things we learned from our vaccinated daughter contracting whooping cough by lindsay ross. I walk a very thing line in between two parties on this issue. We believe that vaccines really are necessary. I did careful research on what really was recommended by the CDC before diving in with our boys. We ended up going on a slower schedule and not mixing vaccines, but ultimately, they are fully vaccinated. This is a matter of educating yourself and making informed decisions. […]ReplyCancel

  • Michelle

    I’ll never understand the anger this topic inspires. If someone trully brlieves their research is correct then they should go ahead and take the risk of going unvaccinated without fear of opposing views. Why run around the internet insulting parents who have obviously taken great strides to get informed and come to a different conclusion?
    Great article- well written and the tone was perfect- not angry or judgemental. I’m glad to hear your daughter finally recovered.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Thanks Michelle. I really wasn’t trying to offend anyone or make people angry. It’s SUCH a touchy subject, but I wanted to share what I had learned. That’s it. I’ve definitely done my research. And I know other people have too. And yet we have VERY different views on the subject. I think that’s true with pretty much any important topic in life. I’m totally fine if someone disagrees with me. I certainly don’t see the need for people to be mean or call names or insist other people are stupid because they disagree. I appreciate your comment!ReplyCancel

  • Karen

    I’m noticing that the people who are insisting that whooping cough is no big deal are not the ones who have dealt with it in their own child.ReplyCancel

  • Ann Dean

    after reading the comments above it appears that the only ones who get whooping are the ones who have been vaccinated. Is there any data to show the percentage of those vaccinated that get whooping cough compared to those unvaccinated?ReplyCancel

    • Issa

      Hi Ann, read the post I wrote below. And if you want even more info you can email me. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • nicole

      im also curious on the studies you have showing that it is proven unvaccinated children cause vaccinated children to get the illness. Great insight and I love your passion ! I still choose not to vaccinate but not against those who do ! 🙂ReplyCancel

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