"State health officials reported Thursday that California is on track to break a 55-year record for whooping cough infections in an epidemic that has already claimed the lives of nine infants."
"Whooping cough is a cyclical illness that peaks in number of infections every five years. Symptoms are similar to the common cold, making it a challenge to diagnose, which in turn makes it difficult for officials to determine if the worst has passed, said Dr. Gil Chavez, an epidemiologist for the California Department of Public Health.
A persistent cough that lasts weeks is the tell-tale symptom of the illness, which is also known as pertussis."
"The federal numbers for nationwide cases were last updated Sept. 12 and represent 519 more cases than the same period last year, according to the CDC. Other states with high numbers of infections include Texas, where health officials reported 1,783 cases, and Ohio, where federal officials reported 1,019 cases."
"All of the whooping cough-related deaths in California occurred in babies too young to be fully immunized against the illness, which is why parents and caretakers are being urged to get booster shots. Typically, babies are given a series of vaccinations, then receive booster shots between ages 4 and 6 and again after age 10."
"The vaccines against whooping cough are free of the additive thimerosal, a preservative containing mercury that has been the subject of a long-running public debate about whether it can cause autism."
"Health officials also are asking everyone over 6 months of age to get a flu vaccine this year, expanding previous guidelines that targeted vulnerable populations. The recommendation reflects federal guidelines.
This year's influenza vaccine, Trivalent, will protect against the H1N1 virus, and two other strains of the virus, said Chavez."
As parents we make our own health choices for our children. I urge you to keep this information in mind as the school year continues and you are faced with health care decisions.