San Diego health officials recommend whooping cough vaccine amid possible epidemic

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - County health officials are encouraging local women to get vaccinated for "whooping cough" amid a possible epidemic.

The county says pertussis, commonly known as "whooping cough," could turn into a possible local epidemic based on historical patterns.

"It’s critical for pregnant women and people who come into close contact with young infants to get vaccinated," Wilma Wooten, County public health officer, said. "Newborns are very susceptible to whooping cough because they are too young to be fully vaccinated. It is vital for pregnant women to be vaccinated in the third trimester to give protection to their unborn infants."

So far in 2018, there have been 56 confirmed cases of pertussis.

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Last year, San Diego County recorded at least 1,154 cases, the highest of any county in California. Wooten said the high numbers were partially attributed to reporting methods.

"Pertussis activity in our region appears to higher than the rest of the state, but much of this is due to the excellent detection and reporting of this potentially deadly disease by San Diego pediatricians and family physicians," Wooten said.

Pertussis is a cyclical disease that peaks every three to five years, according to health officials. San Diego's last epidemics were in 2010 and 2014, with 1,179 and 2,072, respectively.

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The county said on in five of the San Diego County cases in 2017 were in individuals under three years of age, and 52 percent were between the ages of 10 and 17.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend a vaccination schedule to combat whooping cough:

  • Young children need five doses of DTaP by kindergarten: at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 15 to 18 months, and 4 to 6 years.
  • All students entering 7th grade need proof of a whooping cough booster immunization (Tdap).
  • A Tdap booster is recommended for pregnant women during their third trimester of each pregnancy, even if they got a booster before becoming pregnant.
  • One dose of Tdap is recommended for adults 19 years of age and older who did not get Tdap as an adolescent.

Pertussis typically begins with a cough and runny nose for one to two weeks, followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits.

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