The California Department of Public Health announced on Thursday that an Orange County baby has died from pertussis, a disease which often called whooping cough. Health officials said this is the first confirmed infant death from whooping cough since 2018.
The CDPH officials are joining with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in strongly recommending that expectant mothers get the whooping cough booster shot as soon as possible if their pregnancy is between 27 and 36 weeks along, even if the expectant mother was previously immunized. They said getting the vaccine during pregnancy boosts the mother's immunity, and she then passes some of her protective antibodies on to her unborn baby. That can help prevent newborns from contracting whooping cough until they are old enough to get their own immunizations at six to eight 8 weeks of age.
"To give babies the best protection, I urge all pregnant women to get vaccinated against whooping cough as early as possible during the third trimester of every pregnancy," said Dr. Karen Smith, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer. "The best way to prevent whooping cough is by getting vaccinated."
Doctors say the symptoms of whooping cough are not the same for all children depending on their age. For children, whooping cough usually begins with a runny nose and cough which can last for one or two weeks. Typically the cough gets worse and might develop into uncontrollable fits of coughing which produces the unmistakable whooping sound. Very young children may not exhibit typical whooping cough symptoms, and they may not even have a cough, but they may instead stop breathing temporarily and become red or purple in the face.
In adults, whooping cough symptoms can just be a cough that lasts for several weeks.
State health officials note that most insurance plans cover immunization for whooping cough.