Low immunization rates linked to epidemic spread of whooping cough

Barb, my wife, reported to me that friends who are expecting a baby very soon, have informed those who may be visiting or caring for the baby, including grandparents, be immunized against whooping cough (pertussis). Barb asked me, “Is that reasonable?”

“Absolutely,” I replied. I believe it is the parents’ responsibility to provide a bubble of protection around their newborn. The hospital requires nurses and doctors who care for babies to have a variety of immunizations. And, it’s past time for parents to do the same (for themselves and care providers).

We doctors certainly do the same thing each flu season. Since babies cannot get the flu shot until they are 6 months old, the only protection they have is for their care givers to be immunized. The same with whooping cough.

Anyway, now we have another pertussis scare due to unimmunized children. The Los Angeles Times reports, “Public health officials say California’s lackluster immunization rates could be a factor in the epidemic spread of whooping cough.” Unfortunately, more than one small baby has died in this epidemic. The horrible thing is that these deaths were preventable.

At present, “California is one of only 11 states that does not require middle school students to receive a booster shot against whooping cough.”

As a result, “just 43.7% of California adolescents had the vaccine for whooping cough, known as Tdap, in 2008, according to the CDC.”

What’s more, the “state is the only one in the nation to report such a dramatic surge in pertussis.”

Notably, “efforts to require the whooping cough shot in adolescents have stalled in the California Legislature in recent years because of the budget crisis.”

Meanwhile, “public health officials” continue to “worry that some parents may decline vaccination because they believe that vaccines cause autism.”

Of course, readers of this blog understand that there is absolutely NO evidence of any association between any immunization and autism or autism spectrum disorders.

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