by Melissa Garvey, ACNM Writer and Editor
According to state public health officials, California residents are experiencing epidemic levels of whooping cough. With five infant deaths already and nearly 1500 reported cases so far in 2010, California is on track to experience the highest levels of whooping cough in 50 years.
The Fall and Rise of Whooping Cough in America
Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a highly contagious, life-threatening infection. In the early 1900s, it was a leading cause of childhood death in the United States. By the 1970s, following the introduction of a vaccine, infection levels waned.
Since the mid-1970s, cases of whooping cough have been increasing—especially in infants too young to have completed their vaccination schedule and in teens and adults whose immunity has expired.
Could Vaccines be Linked?
Some experts are wondering if California’s low rate of vaccination against whooping cough could be a factor in the state’s epidemic. While the state’s rate of adolescent vaccination is above the national average, it falls short of many states who require adolescents to receive the pertussis vaccine (commonly known as Tdap) by law. California legislation currently does not require Tdap.
Given this information, does this change your mind about vaccination decisions for you, your family, or your patients? Does it reinforce your beliefs or encourage you to reconsider your opinions?