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California Declares Whooping Cough Epidemic

Tue, 20 Jul 2010 08:10:4

David Goodhue - AHN News Reporter

Sacramento, CA, United States (AHN) - California health officials say the state is facing its worst year for whooping cough in more than a half century, and they are broadening their recommendations for who gets vaccinated.

The California Department of Public Health released a statement Monday that whooping cough has reached epidemic levels in the state, with 1,496 cases in the first six months of the year. This is a fivefold increase from the same time frame in 2009, when only 258 people contracted the illness.

Five infants have died this year from whooping cough, and officials say the un-immunized are at a particular risk.

A baby can begin the immunization process at 6 months, but they are not completely protected until a series of three shots is complete. However, even these shots wear off by the time most kids finish middle school.

The public health department is now recommending anyone 7 years and older who is not fully immunized, including people older than 64, to get the shots. Also recommended to get the shots are women of child-bearing age before, during or immediately after pregnancy; and people who have contact with pregnant women or infants.

For more information, go to www.cdph.ca.gov.

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