County pushes for whooping cough vaccinations after first infant death since 2009

April 24, 2012

Maricopa County Public Health has announced the first recorded death of an infant from whooping cough since 2009. 

According to the county health department, almost 700 cases of pertussis – or whooping cough – were recorded in 2011, a 40 percent increase over the previous year. Health Department Director Bob England says not enough adults are up-to-date on their pertussis vaccinations. The child who recently died from whooping cough was too young to be vaccinated, and likely caught it from an adult.

“Young infants, unfortunately, are too young to be protected from their own vaccinations, so it’s crucially important that we vaccinate around them,” England said.

Maricopa County is marking National Infant Immunization Week, highlighting the importance of getting babies vaccinated as soon as they’re old enough. England says it’s important that those in close contact with newborns are also up-to-date.

“We’re trying to build a cocoon of immunity around that newborn," England said.

England says pertussis may present as just a nagging cough in an adult, but could prove deadly to an infant.

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