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San Francisco Marin Medical Society Blog

Whooping Cough Reaches Epidemic Levels in California

California public health officials announced that the state is facing an epidemic of pertussis, or whooping cough, with more than 4,500 cases reported this year in the state, including 46 in San Francisco. The highest rates of the illness are in Marin, Napa and Sonoma counties.


“Preventing severe disease and death in infants is our highest priority,” says Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and state health officer. “We urge all pregnant women to get vaccinated. We also urge parents to vaccinate infants as soon as possible.”

The Tdap vaccination for pregnant women is the best way to protect infants who are too young to be vaccinated. All pregnant women should be vaccinated with Tdap in the third trimester of each pregnancy, regardless of previous Tdap vaccination. In addition, infants should be vaccinated as soon as possible. The first dose of pertussis vaccine can be given as early as 6 weeks of age.

Older children, pre-adolescents, and adults should also be vaccinated against pertussis according to current recommendations. It is particularly important that persons who will be around newborns also be vaccinated.

Pertussis data, including the number of cases in each county, can be found on the CDPH website, and is updated regularly.

Click here for an updated pertussis guide for clinicians from the San Francisco Department of Public Health. (Updated July 11, 2014)

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