SALEM -- In the wake of one of the worst years for whooping cough in the United States, health officials have recommended that pregnant women get vaccinated for pertussis during their third trimester.

Doctors hope the mother's immunity will pass on to her baby, helping the infant avoid getting sick during the first weeks of life. Typically, babies do not receive their first pertussis vaccination until they're two months old.

Last year, 41,880 people in the U.S. got sick with whooping cough. Eighteen people died, including 15 babies who were less than 12 months old. In 2011, there were 18,719 cases in the U.S.

Whooping cough is extremely contagious and especially dangerous for infants and senior citizens.

Children typically receive five doses of the vaccine beginning at 2 months old and a booster shot when they are 11 or 12 years old.

More: Helpful info. about whooping cough

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