Whooping cough sounds like a pretty retro illness to come down with, but it's turning out to be a very modern problem. Even though we've had a vaccine for it since 1940, there's been an outbreak recently of the disease. There have been hundreds of cases reported in nine states. Washington state alone has 1,484 cases and has declared a whooping cough epidemic. Scary! Infants are at particular risk for getting sick from it, and they can also develop deadly pneumonia as a result. It turns out 82 percent of the whooping cough cases have been kids under 18, and four babies have died in Washington.
Most kids get three doses of the vaccine when they're two, four, and six months old. The CDC says 95 percent of them get the needed vaccines, but its effectiveness wears off over time. That's why adults need a booster shot after they turn 18, but unfortunately only 8 percent of us get the booster. That leaves not only us at risk but also increases the risk that if we get it, we'll pass it on to any babies we're around who are too young to have been vaccinated. So rack your brain to remember if you've been boosted. If you have, rest easy that you'll be safe if some Contagion-like scenario develops. Otherwise, consider making a trip to your local clinic if you don't want to be whooping it up later.