At the end of June, officials in California declared an epidemic of whooping cough in the state, after the deaths of five infants all under the age of three months. Now the July 19th Los Angeles Times reports that another infant in Los Angeles County has possibly died from the disease; two of the babies who died earlier lived in Los Angeles County. Infants under the age of six months are especially vulnerable to get whooping cough as even those who have been vaccinated have yet to develop immunity.
Vaccination Recommended for Young Children, the Elderly, Pregnant Women
On Monday, the California Department of Public Health issued a recommendation that not only infants, but also children aged 7 and older, and adults aged 64 and older, get the pertussis vaccine. Women who are of child-bearing age are also being strongly encouraged to get the vaccine before, during, and immediately after pregnancy, as are those who come into contact with pregnant women or infants.
Some 1,500 cases of whopping cough have been reported in California this year—nearly five times as many as last year. More about the state’s pertussis immunization policy can be found here.
Claims of a Vaccine-Autism Connection Have Hurt Vaccination Rates
Having followed for some years the claims of those who think that vaccines or something in vaccines might be linked to autism—and who have exhorted people to spread out vaccines for their children and even not to have their children vaccinated—I have to say, I’m saddened but not entirely surprised to hear about what’s going on in California.
Talk to any parent of a young child these days and you discover, they’ve not only heard about a purported (though discredited) vaccine-autism link, bu tthey’re scared about what vaccines ‘could do’ to their child. Parents of young children hear plenty about autism. The latest reports about autism research—about using voice recorders to detect autism, about observing the picky eating habits of young children—tend to be about new methods of detecting the neurodevelopmental disability in young (and younger and younger) children. All that it takes for a parent to hear some internet buzz linking vaccines to autism and a dangerous seed is planted about the purported ’causes of autism.’
Make sure your kids’s vaccines are up to date. And make sure that your own are, too.
Children can die from whooping cough. Not from autism.
Photo by Andrew Rueda.