LOUISVILLE, KY. (WHAS) -- It's been many years since Lakisha Collins has had whooping cough, but she can still remember the experience.
"I actually caught it when I was younger. I was probably like 9 or 10 when I caught it," she said. "It was just a bad cough, like just a real bad cough. Hoarse, fever, it was horrible."
Collins is now the director of Our Angels Child Care Center, where she said there is an emphasis placed on the health and safety of the children in her care.
"You don't want to send them to daycare with a nasty cough and a runny nose and a fever and just give them some Tylenol and be like, 'Oh, they're okay,'" she said. "Next thing you know, 20 people got it."
"Make sure you're being vigilant and make sure anyone who's coming in contact with your children is vaccinated," Dr. Sarah Moyer, the director of the Department of Public Health and Wellness, said. "As long as people are vaccinated, the chances of it spreading is small."
The Department of Public Health and Wellness said there have been seven reported cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, in infants 12 months of age and younger in Jefferson County just in September, a dramatic spike in the highly contagious illness that could lead to serious health problems and even death in certain cases, with younger infants the most at risk.
"A lot of vaccines wear off over time because of mutations and things like the flu shot, why we have to get the flu shot every year," Moyer said.
According to Moyer, there are antibiotics to treat whooping cough, but the best way to prevent it is with parents keeping their children up to date with their vaccination, something Collins said she and her staff monitor with all the children in their care.
"Whenever it's time for renewal, we'll write it down and we'll remind the parents, 'It's time to take your child to the doctor. Shots are coming up,'" she said. "If they miss, they can't come back until their records are up to date."
"Our vaccination rates are pretty good in Louisville and we just want to make sure people stay on top of that and are getting vaccinated," Moyer said. "We think it has more to do with the change in the formulation of the vaccine."
According to the Department of Health and Wellness, infants should receive a series of DTaP immunizations at 2 months, 4 months and 6 months. Children should also receive boosters at ages 15-18 months and again between ages 4 and 6. Children should also receive a dose of the Tdap vaccine around ages 11 and 12.
Moyer said pregnant women should also receive the Tdap immunization during every pregnancy between weeks 27 and 36 to ensure the health of the child.
The Department also said parents and caregivers who are in contact with children should also receive the Tdap vaccination even if they received immunizations as a child because "vaccines can wear off over a period of time."
Parents who do not have health insurance should contact the Department of Public Health and Wellness at 574-6520.