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High Pertussis Activity in Several States Triggers Call for Vaccines

Several states have reported significant increases in pertussis activity this year, prompting health officials to urge parents to vaccinate their children.

Several states have reported significant increases in pertussis (whooping cough) activity this year, prompting health officials to urge parents to vaccinate their children.

According to the CDC, 5,120 cases of pertussis had been reported nationwide as of June 19. Although the number is lower than what was reported last year, several states have reported significant increases in pertussis activity, including Texas (1,154 cases), Ohio (523 cases), Michigan (380 cases) and Arizona (163 cases).

The California Department of Public Health has declared an outbreak of pertussis to be an epidemic, as 910 cases have been reported as of June 15, which is four times more than at the same time last year, and five deaths have been reported. A public health advisory has also been issued in South Carolina, where pertussis cases were reported to be above an epidemic threshold.

In the wake of the California outbreak, Mark Horton, M.D., director of the California Department of Public Health, is urging parents to vaccinate their children, adding that parents, family members and caregivers of infants should get booster shots.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recommend that children receive five doses of diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis, or DTaP, vaccine, including a primary series at two months, four months and six months. Additional doses should be given at 15-18 months and 4-6 years.

However, the California Academy of Family Physicians posted a recommendation on its website for members to use an accelerated DTaP infant schedule—initial vaccination at six weeks of age with subsequent doses recommended at four-week intervals—during the outbreak.

For more information and recommendations, visit the AAFP website.