Pertussis, or whooping cough, is on the rise. In California, where whooping cough has claimed its 10th victim, alarm is starting to set in. The California Department of Public Health issued a statement dated Oct. 19 that shows a tremendous jump in the number of cases, which is driving a push for infant vaccination.
In the statement issued by the Department of Public Health, the rate of cases is described in detail and shows that the disease is beginning to cross into the epidemic stage in all but name. For instance, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, in 2009, there were 17,000 reported cases and 14 deaths for the entire nation. In California this year, there have been 5,978 reported, confirmed, probable or suspected cases and 10 deaths. This equates to a rate of incidence 60 cases per 100,000 people, or a 600 percent jump from 2009, with two and half months remaining in the year.
At this point, the cases seem to centered in the Hispanic community, and there are a couple of competing explanations for the disease’s focus. While vaccinations are available for the whooping cough, the cost of medical care could be a potential barrier to getting these crucial medicines. According to Statehealthfacts.org, on average, about 19.9 percent of the entire population lives in a state of poverty, but among Hispanics, that rate jumps to 29.2 percent, a rate that beats out all other ethnic groups.
Another possible explanation is the general distrust of vaccinations that has come about in recent years. Some major celebrities, of which California has more than a few, have begged parents to not get necessary vaccination over fears of disease and the onset of autism, a claim not supported by medical science, as reported by the CDC. Though not founded in science, these fears persist in the face of claims made by celebrities, like Jenny McCarthy, who claim that Thimerosal, an additive to many childhood vaccines, is the root cause of the onset of autism in children.
The California Department of Public Health, though, in the face of a real and present danger facing their residents, has issued a new set of recommendations to increase vaccination in all age groups and ethnicities, but especially those likely to come into close contact with infants. In fact, according to the guidelines, the only people who should not get the vaccine are those who show that their immunity is decreasing after a dose, or those who have had brain surgery within seven days of the vaccination.