In 2010 a pertussis epidemic (otherwise known as ‘whooping cough’) swept through California and left at least 10 infants dead and made thousands ill. It was a tragic and preventable epidemic because whooping cough is a bacterial disease for which effective vaccinations have been available for several decades. Although infected teens and adults are generally able to recover from this illness after suffering its painful symptoms that leave victims coughing so hard that they gasp for air, very young babies are more susceptible to its effects.
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The California epidemic spurred new legislation in several states that now requires children in grades 6-12 to get pertussis booster shots. So why get your child vaccinated? Well, not only is it required, but you can protect your kids from prolonged illness and you can maintain the ‘herd immunity,’ or the protection that a group of people have because they are all vaccinated, which protects the infants below 2 months old who cannot yet receive the vaccination from potentially fatal illness.
Whooping cough has made a resurgence after nearly being wiped out because some parents are electing not to vaccinate their children because they have concerns, which have been extensively discredited, that vaccinations can cause autism. The Centers for Disease Control has a very strong publication for parents who want to learn more about childhood vaccines, how they work, and recommended intervals of receipt.
Be sure to consult your doctor with any questions about the pertussis vaccination and your child. This is a very important protective action for any parent to take, and has become the law in many places.