Medical students prepare a whooping cough vaccination.

Cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, are escalating across California and hitting Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties the hardest. Over 4,500 Californians have been infected so far this year, including three infants who have died, prompting state officials to advise pregnant women to get vaccinated. We’ll discuss the epidemic and get advice from health professionals.

Lee Atkinson-McEvoy, clinical professor of pediatrics at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital
Kathleen Harriman, chief of the Vaccine Preventable Disease Epidemiology Section with the California Department of Public Health

  • Beth Grant DeRoos

    My doctor suggested that even adults should get re vaccinated with common childhood disease prevention vaccines if one is around babies and children a lot. Is he correct?

  • Megan Bucci

    I am 29 weeks, my doctor mentioned that I should get a vaccine booster (I have no problem with vaccines and will get one, I also plan to vaccinate my child) should my husband get one as well?

    • Mrs. Eccentric

      Hi Megan! the best course of action is to ask your doctor. Thank you for taking your vaccines! i’m vulnerable but don’t have great protection from vaccines (see my comment below), my best bet is for others with good immune systems to vaccinate. steph

  • Mrs. Eccentric

    As a person with chronic respiratory disease i thank so much people who vaccinate themselves and their children. So many of the most vulnerable, like the infants who died, cannot take a vaccination or, like myself, can take a vaccination but won’t get great protection (for example because of a weakened immune system). Vaccination is truly one of those actions we undertake not simply for selfish reasons, but to protect the community as a whole. Again, as a member of that community i vaccinate myself and appreciate all who do their part.

    My heart goes out to the bereaved. steph

  • Kim

    I got whooping cough last August. I’d been vaccinated less than a year earlier. It was the most sick I’ve ever been in my life. I was out of work for six weeks and I coughed for five months. I still occasionally wheeze at night nearly a year later. VACCINATE PLEASE!

  • Mjhmjh

    And what is your guests’ opinion of the advice given that whooping cough immunization is contraindicated when there is a history of seizures in the child, or the family?

  • Joe Sea

    I heard on the show that some people refuse to get vaccinated due to religious reasons. This sounded to me as refusing to stop at the red light due to religious reaons, in other words: it does not make any sense. I am curious to know which religion is that and what are the specifics in that religion that actually prohibit vaccination. Until then, quoting religion against vaccination is pretty much a nonsense to me…

  • Rita D

    For those who work with young infants/children :
    Is it really necessary for a booster containing all 3 – diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis? I work in healthcare and with young infants. I have had my booster but would not necessarily want to repeat the DPT on a 3-year schedule. Could one get just a booster for pertussis on a 3 year basis? (I am glad to get the booster for pertussis having had some pretty bad respiratory infections in years past when the H1N1 first came to the U.S.). But I don’t know that the booster for diphtheria and tetanus are necessary that often. I don’t really want to get more vaccines than needed – I sometimes question the risks of some vaccines. I also am not sure why all infants need the Hepatitis B vaccine series begun at birth now. This is routinely done now in the U.S. but the risk of infants contacting Hepatitis B is pretty limited. I would think waiting until children are older – perhaps in middle school might be earlier enough for them to begin the hepatitis B vaccine series.

  • Kathy

    I think we may need to educate doctors on the adult symptoms of the disease. I’m almost certain I had it three years ago (my symptoms exactly fit the pattern and severity that adults typically experience as described in information I found by doing my own research), but in trying to get a diagnosis had several doctors refuse to even see me. The others did not have the diagnostic test kit and said it would take too long to order (i.e., I would no longer test positive by the time it arrived). Finally, I called the public health department office in my area and left a message saying I thought I had whooping cough, but never got a call back. My understanding is that the adult symptoms and pattern of the disease are usually much much milder than the childhood presentation. But despite that, several of the doctors I called suggested that if I really had it I’d be so sick I’d already be hospitalized. So I am concerned that if doctors are only able to identify the childhood presentation of the disease, we are probably not diagnosing the adults who are often transmitting it.

  • Rita D

    Are teachers, school psychologists and daycare providers who work with infants, preschool or elementary school age children required to get the booster vaccine? I think these professions should also consider getting their booster shots. Also, many families in the Bay Area are immigrants from other countries. I wonder if all the pediatricians or family physicians assure that the family members also get their vaccinations if the family members are not up-to-date with their vaccines.

  • Matt Grantham

    Where are the studies? Strong evidence suggests vaccines may be dangerous for women and their fetus. But I suppose we cannot even talk about because that is a conspiracy theory right? One guy here gets whopping cough after being vaccinated and is still a proponent. Also interesting how rarely we here what percentage of individuals involved in these so called out breaks are already vaccinated and whether the vaccinations are causing the infection

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor