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Whooping Cough on the Rise

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Public health officials are gearing up for the worst outbreak of pertussis in California in 50 years yet it is preventable.

The number is on the rise with 17 confirmed cases in San Bernardino County by June with one death compared to 16 cases county wide in 2009. When the vaccine was introduced in the 1940s the number of pertussis cases reported nationally fell from approximately 200,000 per year to a low of 1,100 cases in 1976. Prior to the vaccine whooping cough was a major cause of childhood sickness and death.

Infants get their first pertussis vaccination at 2 months with adequate protection occurring after completing the series of 3 by 6 months. The fourth vaccination occurs around 15 months and the fifth is required when you start school in the United States. The 6th shot usually occurs at age 11 or 12.

Pregnant women if they have not been immunized can receive the vaccination in the 2nd and 3rd trimester to protect themselves and their newborn.

Immunity appears to last for 5 to 10 years. Yes, it can wear off leaving many adults unprotected.

If you have never been vaccinated you can get the series. If your have a prior vaccination history or started first grade in the US get a booster with the Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis which is recommended particularly for health workers and parents of infants and small children.

Talk it over with your personal physician or the Public Health providers.


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