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It’s Not Normal to Be Coughing

Child Coughingby Rouett Abouzelof, RN, MSN, CIC
Infection Preventionist

During the winter cold and flu season, most people know that it’s not normal to be coughing.  And, when we hear or see someone cough, we tend to want to “stay away” from the person who is sick.  But for some reason, when the weather gets sunny and warm, many of us forget that it’s not normal to be coughing.

There is a bad coughing illness in your child’s community.  This illness is frequently spread by teenagers and adults to children.  Sometimes teens and adults complain that they have a bad cough that just won’t go away.   They might not worry too much about the cough or they might think the cough is due to allergies.  It might not make them too sick, so they tend to forget that it’s not normal to be coughing.

But babies and children who get this coughing illness can be very sick, and sometimes their cough is so bad they need to be cared for in the hospital.   This bad coughing illness has a name – Pertussis.  It is also called Whooping Cough because coughing can be so forcefully that a “whooping sound” follows the coughing.  Sometimes vomiting can follow the coughing, too.

In Utah we are having a serious outbreak of Pertussis.  There are things you can do to prevent you or your child from getting sick with Pertussis.  The best way to prevent this disease is to make sure that both children and adults are immunized against Pertussis.  Here are the recommendations:

  1. Babies should be immunized at 2, 4, and 6 months of age.
  2. Toddlers need another immunization between 15-18 months of age.
  3. Children need one more immunization between 4-6 years of age.
  4. Teens need a booster immunization – depending on previous immunization history, this booster can be given as early at 10 years of age.
  5. Adults should get immunized too.  Women with new babies are encouraged to get a booster shot before they go home from the hospital. This booster shot will help protect their baby from Pertussis until the baby is old enough to be immunized.

Check with your healthcare provider if:

  1. You don’t know you or your child’s immunization status.
  2. You or your child get a forceful, coughing illness, have difficulty breathing, or vomit after coughing.
  3. You or your child have close contact (especially to family members) who have a bad coughing illness.

And remember that it’s not normal to be coughing.

For more information visit the Center for Disease Control’s pertussis page or download Primary Children’s Let’s Talk About Whooping Cough (Pertussis) fact sheet.


Rouett-AbouzelofRouett Abouzelof RN, MSN, CIC is nationally certified in infection prevention and control. She has been a member on national APIC committees and is the immediate past president of the Utah Chapter. Rouett has been a part of Primary Children’s team for 7 years. Her expertise is built upon her work as a nurse caring for general surgery, neurosurgery, trauma, and transplant patients.

About Primary Children's Hospital

​Primary Children’s Hospital ranks among the best children's hospitals. Located in scenic Utah, everything in our hospital is focused on providing the best care for children. For more than 90 years, we have been committed to helping children, families, and communities across the western United States.

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