According to the California Department of Public Health, the very contagious disease Whooping cough (Pertussis) is at epidemic levels in California.
According ValleyCare Medical Foundation pediatrician Christi Klimish, MD, Pertussis can cause serious illness in infants, children and adults. "It usually starts like a cold, with runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and maybe even a mild cough or fever. After one or two weeks, severe coughing begins. Whooping cough gets it name because infants and children will cough violently over and over until the air is gone from their lungs and they're forced to inhale with a loud 'whooping' sound," she said. "It is most severe for babies and can be deadly, especially in infants."
Vaccination is the best way to prevent pertussis. In the US, the recommended vaccine for children is called DtaP, a safe and effective combination vaccine that protects children against three diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. For maximum protection, children need five DTaP shots. The first three shots are given at 2, 4, and 6 months of age; the fourth shot between 15 and 18 months, and a fifth shot is given when a child enters school, at 4–6 years of age.
Protection from the childhood vaccine fades over time. Parents, family members and caregivers of children should receive a booster shot (called Tdap), even if they were completely vaccinated as children. Getting vaccinated with Tdap is especially important for families and caregivers of new infants.
Women who deliver at ValleyCare and were not previously vaccinated get one dose of Tdap postpartum before leaving the hospital. ValleyCare's Occupational Health Services offer new dads and adult caregivers of young children the vaccine. Please call for an appointment (925) 416-3611.
(from the Centers for Disease Control)