State Expands Target Groups for Whooping Cough Vaccination
In response to a growing number of cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, California public health officials have expanded vaccination recommendations to include children ages seven and older, women of childbearing age and adults ages 65 and older, the Orange County Register reports.
Previous guidelines set by CDC focused on immunizations for infants and young children, with a booster shot at age 11 or 12 (Perkes, Orange County Register, 7/19).
Background on Epidemic
Last month, California officials declared an epidemic of whooping cough. As of last Friday, the state had confirmed 1,496 cases of the highly-contagious disease this year, a fivefold increase from the same time last year (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/20).
So far this year, five infants younger than three months old have died from whooping cough in California.
State, Local Response
Gil Chavez, chief of infectious diseases at the Department of Public Health, said DPH has provided no-cost vaccines to local hospitals and community clinics throughout the state. He added that officials have held meetings with ethnic media outlets to raise awareness about the importance of immunization (Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times, 7/20).
In addition, many counties are offering no-cost or discounted booster shots for older children and adults to help curb the spread of the disease (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/20).
Differences Among Counties
Currently, Marin County has the highest number of diagnosed whooping cough cases with 195 (Calvan, Sacramento Bee, 7/20). Health officials say the county's high disease rate could be partially attributed to parents who chose not to vaccinate their young children (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/20).
Among other counties:
- Los Angeles County has 43 reported cases of whooping cough;
- San Francisco County has 32 cases; and
- Placer and Sacramento counties both have 23 cases (Sacramento Bee, 7/20).