Friday, September 18, 2009

Whooping Cough

There are all sorts of surprises in Peggy’s Box of birth cards. One of the first being that not all the items in the box are cards. I was surprised to pull out a certificate of Whooping cough immunization.

According to Wikipedia Whooping cough is one of the leading causes of vaccine-preventable deaths worldwide. Most of these deaths occur in the Third World though it is still commonplace in Canada. It further states that “After vaccines were introduced in the 1940s, incidence fell dramatically.” Before a vaccine was available, whooping cough killed 5,000-10,000 people a year in the United States.

Peggy must have been one of the first babies to receive a whooping cough vaccine. She received three vaccine shots by December 1940 when she was six and a half months old.

The type of vaccine Peggy received, according to the certificate, was one prepared according to the method of Dr. Louis W. Sauer (1885-1980). Dr. Sauer “was a pediatrician who became known for perfecting the vaccine used to prevent” Whooping cough. He taught at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago which explains why Northwestern is listed on the certificate as the authorizing body.

The Whooping cough vaccine she received in 1940 likely saved her life and that of countless others.


  1. I believe we still had whopping cough quarantines, when I was a kid, 1940s, in the rural small towns.

    Bill ;-)
    Author of "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories"

  2. Marian, when my mom was a baby she had whooping cough. This would have around 1928. My grandmother was very worried and had my mother in a carriage and she would wheel the carriage all over the house so as not to leave the baby alone for a moment! She was a good Mom! You know what a neighbor said, Put that carriage in the corner and don't look at it again! Unreal! These kinds of things must have happened more often than we would have thought!