My fourth child got whooping cough when he was 19 months old. He is unvaccinated. It was horrific. He got a bad cough at night and after one week he had bilateral (both sides) pneumonia. He had just been weaned from breastfeeding :( He was otherwise perfectly healthy and had only been sick one other time that I remember. It came on fast and strong. The cough lasted well over 3 months. I had to PUSH for them to test him. We did the nasal swab and it was obviously positive.
He gave it to my friend son, also unvaccinated and he had an even worse case (same age). Thankfully neither his infant sister (unvaxed but breastfed) or any of my other 3 children (2 vaxed, 1 not) got it. Neither did any of the other children he was around at church for several hours a week - thank God.
Taximom5 - it definitely sounds like your kids had croup, not pertussis. Even a mild case lasts much longer than 2 days. Its not called the 100 day cough for nothing. We've dealt with a lot of croup, and its scary and sounds terrible. But whooping cough is a whole different ballgame. My son would turn bright red, not breathe, cough up this sticky mucous, etc. Not like croup.
As far as vaccinating, its always going to be a personal choice. We now have a 3 month old and I agonize over the decision for all of them. Lots of praying for wisdom. My child that had it is immune for a long, long time. My oldest had a booster. My second child we dont feel peace about vaccinating again (he's 8 and had several at age 1). My 5yr old had 1 dose of Dtap recently and my husband got the Tdap booster. I also plan to get it. We take it child-by-child. Its a hard call though :(