After Losing Babies to Pertussis Parents Make Plea for Prevention
Jan 28, 2016


How is it that three families, who’ve never actually met one another, find themselves sharing words of consolation and encouragement at the same time each year?

How is it that these three families are forever bonded by their children, and the courage and compassion they have to share their stories?  

Carter, Callie and Brady were just infants when they had to say goodbye.  But during this week, back in 2010 and 2012, three babies lost their fight to pertussis, (more commonly known as whooping cough) and their families were forever changed.

In 2008, Every Child By Two (ECBT) launched a program called Vaccinate Your Baby, which was inspired in large part by the Romaguera family, who had contacted the organization several years earlier after having lost their baby Gabrielle to pertussis.

In the days and months following the death of Carter, Callie and Brady, the Dube, Van Tornhout and Alcaide families also reached out to Every Child By Two in hopes that they could turn their personal tragedies into a public health mission.

VYF_Full-InfographicToday, as Every Child By Two Parent Advocates, their commitment to pertussis prevention has undoubtedly helped bring about many positive and live-saving changes. They have not only raised awareness of the importance of adult Tdap boosters, but their efforts have helped alter the way in which the public is advised to protect newborns from pertussis.

Prior to the death of their children, none of these families were educated on the need for adult Tdap boosters.  They’ve since devoted a great amount of time to sharing their stories; in media interviews, in state legislative chambers,  on podiums at public health conferences, and in blogs and Facebook posts shared widely on social media.

New Recommendations Are Helping in the Fight Against Pertussis

Today, leading professional organizations such as the AAP, the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), all recommend that pregnant women receive Tdap boosters in the third trimester of each pregnancy. This not only helps to protect the expectant mom from contracting pertussis and passing it onto their newborn, it also provides passive immunity to the unborn baby.  This practice helps protect infants before they begin receiving their own pertussis immunizations through a series of five DTaP vaccine doses that begin at two months of age.

Before the DTaP shot was routinely administered to infants, about 8,000 people in the United States died each year from whooping cough. However, thanks to greater immunization coverage and greater public awareness, this number has dropped to fewer than 20 deaths per year. Unfortunately, because the bacteria is still widely circulating in our communities and not everyone is adequately protected, whooping cough still makes people very sick.  In 2014, as many as 30,000 people were diagnosed with pertussis and each year many are still hospitalized. The real danger is among children under 12 month of age.  About half of these infants who get whooping cough are hospitalized, and tragically approximately 1 out of 100 infants who are hospitalized will die.  So how can we better protect these babies?

Research Continues to Guide Vaccine Recommendations

Research indicates that family members are often the source of infection among infants, and most family members are passing on the infection without ever realizing they have  pertussis themselves. In one recent study, approximately 85% of infants with pertussis got if from a member of their immediate or extended family.  This is why Tdap boosters are now recommended for all family members and caregivers who spend time around babies.  In fact, families members should get their Tdap booster at least two weeks prior to the expected arrival of the baby, since it’s estimated that it takes that long to acquire immunity after getting the vaccine.

Most recently, the efforts and experiences of our Every Child By Two Parent Advocates have even helped inspire the expansion of the Vaccinate Your Baby program to the Vaccinate Your Family program.  When people of all ages are up-to-date on their recommended vaccines, they’re less likely to pass illness on to our vulnerable infant population.

We encourage everyone to visit the adult section of the Vaccinate Your Family website, where there are several resources that specifically help educate older individuals about the need for adult Tdap boosters, to include materials for grandparents who want to help protect their young grandbabies.

Please familiarize yourself with this Grandparent Toolkit and share these materials among your friends, family and colleagues.

Health & Safety Checklist

Tips for Soothing a Fussy Baby

Pledge for Family Members and Friends to Sign

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Vaccines

Every Child By Two stands with our Parent Advocates in our mission to ensure that no family should ever have to endure what they’ve been through.  This week, as we mark the anniversary of the passing of Carter, Callie and Brady, may we each share this video and the many resources on the Vaccinate Your Family website in an effort to educate the public about pertussis prevention. 


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17 responses to “After Losing Babies to Pertussis Parents Make Plea for Prevention”

  1. Carole Joyce says:

    This is a great piece of information for everyone! Very impressive…Thanks for this great newsletter, I like the format !

  2. Jeanne says:

    “Research indicates that family members are often the source of infection among infants, and most family members are passing on the infection without ever realizing they have pertussis themselves.”

    You mean the recently vaccinated family and friends don’t you? They can unknowingly pass the infection on.

  3. jgc56 says:

    Jeanne, since vaccinated family and friends are themselves less likely to become infected with pertussis they’re far less likely to unknowingly pass the infection on than are unvaccinated family and friends .

  4. Lawrence says:

    They can only pass on what they are infected with – if they don’t have pertussis to begin with, the vaccination doesn’t cause a person to get the disease to pass along.

  5. valley28 says:

    I almost died from the DPT vaccine, and back then, it was protocol not to give pertussis if a child has convulsions or seizures from the vaccine. I never got pertussis, and only had the one vaccine with pertussis that almost killed me. What about all the babies who die from from the Tdap vaccine? To find out the risk, do a query on the CDC’s Vaers site. How to do a Vaers Data Search, is that you click on Vaers Data Search. If you make the query too broad, it will tell you. You have to break down to which vaccine if you want deaths or serious injuries, etc. Once you click on the Vaers Data Search, scroll down the page and become familiar with the this page before submitting a query. There are so many deaths and serious events on this site. Learn how to use, because it will help to open your eyes that people of all ages are dying following vaccinations, or becoming severely disabled or sick.

  6. Lawrence says:

    You do know that anyone can file a VAERS report, right?

  7. Jeanne says:


    I suggest you read this.

    “This research suggests that although individuals immunized with an acellular pertussis vaccine may be protected from disease, they may still become infected with the bacteria without always getting sick and are able to spread infection to others, including young infants who are susceptible to pertussis disease.”

  8. Jeanne says:

    “Vaccinated adolescents and adults may serve as reservoirs for silent infection and become potential transmitters to unprotected infants. Therefore, even young, recently vaccinated children may serve as reservoirs and potential transmitters of infection.”

  9. Jeanne says:

    There is one strain of whooping cough (PRN-deficient) strain, that likes the vaccinated.
    If you are vaccinated for whooping cough, you are more likely to catch it, than if you aren’t vaccinated for it.

    CDC Study – Page 6

  10. Jeanne says:

    “vaccinated patients had significantly higher odds than unvaccinated patients of being infected with PRN-deficient strains. Moreover, when patients with up-to-date DTaP vaccinations were compared to unvaccinated patients, the odds of being infected with PRN-deficient strains increased, suggesting that PRN-bacteria may have a selective advantage in infecting DTaP-vaccinated persons.”

  11. Jeanne says:

    “The protocol of “cocooning” newborns by vaccinating everyone in contact with them can be very dangerous on the basis of possible disguising of the infection of those recently vaccinated. My understanding is the Whooping Cough vaccine does not shed, as I believe only live viruses shed, and the vaccine is not meant to stop transmission (it doesn’t), but it can “lessen” the symptoms so a recently vaccinated person may have whooping cough and not know it. They may think they have a normal cough or worse yet, may be completely asymptomatic, and yet contagious passing it on to everybody without knowing and that is scary.”

  12. Jeanne says:

    “This research suggests that although individuals immunized with an acellular pertussis vaccine may be protected from disease, they may still become infected with the bacteria without always getting sick and are able to spread infection to others, including young infants who are susceptible to pertussis disease.”

  13. Lawrence says:

    Yet nothing you posted even hints that people shouldn’t get vaccinated against Pertussis.

  14. Jeanne says:

    In another study animals that received an acellular pertussis vaccine had the bacteria in their airways for up to six weeks and were able to spread the infection to unvaccinated animals. In contrast, animals that received whole-cell vaccine cleared the bacteria within three weeks.

  15. Jeanne says:

    Oh because unexpectedly spreading it to a new born is no big deal huh? You must be a monster.

  16. Lawrence says:

    And the difference is no one ever vaccinated for pertussis?

    A lot of dead babies.

    The only monster here is the person (you) who is advocating against them.

  17. Lawrence says:

    And your lack of biological & immunological knowledge is quite stunning – the vaccine can’t spread the disease.

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