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Children less protected by whooping cough vaccine than they once were, CDC warns

CDC researchers said the bacteria behind the disease has mutated. States have reported school-wide outbreaks.

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Children less protected by whooping cough vaccine than they once were, CDC warns

Brooke Shields (mom of two girls Rowan and Grier): “Trust me when I tell you I’m on my girls. And every time I am, I know from the outside it looks like I’m an overbearing, controlling parent. But I don’t think we are responsible to anybody but our kids and ourselves.”

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Today's whopping cough is being battled by yesterday's vaccine.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers say that the vaccine used for whooping cough is less effective because the bacteria behind the disease has mutated. The researchers analyzed lab samples from whooping cough patients between 2000 and 2013 and found that Bordetella pertussis, which causes whooping cough, has undergone genetic changes over time.

Scientists who published their data this week in the journal “Emerging Infectious Diseases" want to change that.

"The genomic data we provide will aid open research toward improved vaccine development and disease control strategies," CDC authors wrote.

For now, children are less protected by the modern vaccine.

Dr. William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center told NBC News that "the pertussis vaccine is not optimal."

"We're making the best use of the vaccine, while we're frantically doing research to make a better one," Schaffner said, adding a new vaccine is far from ready.

School outbreaks in several states

Don't try to fix everything. Give young kids a chance to find their own solutions. When you lovingly acknowledge a child's minor frustrations without immediately rushing in to save her, you teach her self-reliance and resilience.

Some states have reported whooping cough outbreaks impacting schools in the last two months. Among them:

Whooping cough: What you need to know

Whooping cough is a pretender. The respiratory infection looks like a typical cold with a running nose and low-grade fever. The racking cough with the "whoop" sound of someone infected gasping for air will not show up until up two weeks later, according to the CDC . But the cough likes to stick around and can last for weeks. That's how it earned the nickname — the "cough of 100 days."

How it spreads:

This disease is highly contagious, spread when someone coughs, sneezes or talks and infected droplets are sprayed in the air, where other people inhale them and become infected.

Treatment:

Doctors treat whooping cough with antibiotics and the CDC stresses early treatment is important so it is less serious.

The best protection against whooping cough remains the DTaP vaccine, which also protects against diphtheria and tetanus for a decade.

Babies at greatest risk

Of the more than 13,400 cases reported in 2018, there were 10 deaths from pertussis, according to the CDC .

Pay attention at age 14. That's when most kids start to resist peer influence and flex the think-for-myself muscle, rather than simply following the leader, according to a study published in Developmental Psychology. Want to help strengthen that muscle at any age? Put screens aside and circle the wagons every night. Ask, "What's new with your friends?" This will (here's hoping, if he talks) give you a chance to decode what's happening behind the scenes and offer support.

Of those, four of them were babies under the age of 1.

Babies face the greatest risk for complications, and about half the babies younger than age 1 are hospitalized, often because they have trouble breathing, the CDC reports . A quarter develop pneumonia. One out of 100 will die .

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