Tdap for Dads

By Haley Burton

October 2, 2012 Updated Oct 3, 2012 at 10:29 AM EDT

Cooperstown, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Do you have kids? Bassett Medical Center launches a program to help combat whooping cough.

The hospital says they believe they are the first in the New York state to take a proactive approach of immunizing not only new mothers but fathers.

"It's just like putting a seat belt on your older child. You, the father, getting immunized. You are helping keep your child safe and healthy," said Dr. Chris Kjolhede, Pediatrician at Bassett Medical Center.

Bassett has launched "Tdap for Dads". It's a campaign to immunize not only new mothers but fathers against pertussis (or whooping cough). Tdap is a vaccination that protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

"I'm not aware of it any place else. We're very excited about it," said Dr. Kjolhede, "Dads will come in. Nurses will offer the option. They will sign a consent form and make sure they are not allergic to the immunizations or had any problems with them and then they will get the shot."

Moms are already being immunized against pertussis regularly at Bassett.

"That provides some protection for those 2 months olds. But Dad's have not been immunized in the past and our program is to include the dad's in this cocooning effect of immunizing people around the newborn baby," said Dr. Kjolhede.

Whooping cough is highly contagious. For adults, it can be similar to a bad cold. For newborns, it can be deadly. Cases of whooping cough have been on the rise in the United States.

"Most adults who get it have a bad cold. It's called the cough of a 100 days. For newborns, it can result in apnea which is when the baby stops breathing," said Dr. Kjolhede.

The New York State Department of Health says there has been 15 reported cases of whooping cough in Otsego County through early September.

The State Department of Health says in New York State, 2,089 cases were reported through early September.

"Typically they are occurring in young children who are un-immunized or only partial immunized. The bacteria is carried in the nose and throats of many adults and there is no way to know who's got it and who doesn't," said Dr. Kjolhede.

Newborns don't get immunized against pertussis until they are 2 months old which is why Bassett says Dads also need to get protected. To make it convenient, Dads can get the Tdap while Mom is in the Birthing Center at Bassett or through their primary care doctor before their child is born.

The recommended Tdap immunization schedule for children is two, four and six months, 12-18 months and pre-school. Not immunizing children or not immunizing them fully has contributed to the spread of whooping cough, according to Dr. Kjolhede.