CNN is reporting that a ninth baby has died in California from the whooping cough epidemic. “All nine infants were under three months of age,” according to the Department of Public Health. The LA Times reported earlier that the first eight cases of infant death from pertussis had all been misdiagnosed.
There have been 4,017 cases of whooping cough in California this year, more than in any year since 1955. Some doctors are readily admitting that they feel this outbreak is directly related to “parents who have shied away from vaccinating children due to fears, albeit unfounded, that there is a connection between vaccines and autism.” Medical journal Pediatrics agrees. Is Jenny McCarthy to blame?
“A 2009 study in Pediatrics found that parental refusal of whooping cough vaccination was associated with children’s risk of pertussis infection,” CNN says. Many parents are angry at those who refuse to vaccinate their children. This anger was perhaps best expressed in a Tweet by comedian/writer Gerry Duggan, who wrote Monday, “Can somebody update Jenny McCarthy’s IMDB page to properly credit her with the whooping cough outbreak in California?” Ouch.
I thought about Jenny McCarthy and all the other anti-vaccine parents this week as my daughter got her chickenpox and MMR shots. I was worried she’d feel sick afterwards (my daughter, not Jenny), but she didn’t even show a hint of illness. Of course, whooping cough rates have been high in California before, so this outbreak is not literally Jenny McCarthy’s fault, but she does provide a face for a movement and the effects thereof that will no doubt be discussed (emphasis on dissed) for a long time to come.