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9th Baby Dies in CA Whooping Cough Epidemic

By carolyncastiglia |

whooping cough

Whooping cough epidemic: blame Jenny McCarthy?

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.

Photo: Hubpages

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About carolyncastiglia

carolyncastiglia

carolyncastiglia

Carolyn Castiglia is a New York-based comedian/writer wowing audiences with her stand-up and freestyle rap. She’s appeared in TONY, The NY Post, The Idiot’s Guide to Jokes and Life & Style. You can find Carolyn’s writing elsewhere online at MarieClaire.com and The Huffington Post. Read bio and latest posts → Read Carolyn's latest posts →

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20 thoughts on “9th Baby Dies in CA Whooping Cough Epidemic

  1. Laura says:

    On area I think it is important to focus on when it comes to Whooping cough, or Pertussis, is that it is vital that parents, caregivers, and family get a booster shot. Pertussis in an adult is usually not very severe or life threatening (you may think you just have a bad cold)- but it can be very severe in a young baby. Children usually get a 5 series vaccination (called the DTaP – diptheria, tetnus, and pertussis) starting at age 2mo, then 4mo, then 6mo, 18mo, and 4 years. So they are at highest risk as a newborn, but continue to be at risk until 4 years old. Many adults are not aware that they need a tetnus booster that includes pertussis. As an RN I have seen the effects of perfectly preventable disease, so please if you have young children, take care of young children, or may be exposed to young children anywhere – talk to your health care provider about getting a booster shot. It could save a baby’s life.

  2. JesBelle says:

    Our GP told us how important it was to get the booster shot when we said that we were trying to conceive. I’m glad we got it, but I was a little shocked to find out our insurance didn’t cover it.

  3. Laure68 says:

    @JesBelle – Our insurance covered the shots for me and my husband. I hadn’t heard that any insurance wouldn’t cover this. That is awful that yours didn’t cover it, especially considering how crucial this is.

  4. Tony Bateson says:

    Comments Gerry Duggan is a comedian and I suggest he sticks to comedy and not serious issues that he knows little about. Jenni McCarthy could not possibly contribute to California’s whooping cough outbreak since the children affected are under vaccination age and DPT does not confer immunity it simply mitigates symptoms (manufacturers statement).
    Tony Bateson, Oxford, UK.

  5. Laure68 says:

    @Tony Bateson – even if the children affected are under vaccination age, if every who can get vaccinated gets the shot, herd immunity will protect infants. Like other have said, it is important for adults also to get their boosters.

    As far as DPT only mitigating symptoms, could you provide a link to that statement from the manufacturer. I have been trying to find this and have been unsuccessful.

  6. Laure68 says:

    Sorry, I meant “if everyone who can get vaccinated…”

  7. clara says:

    It is not a very effective vaccine, only about 60% effective. Like a commenter said above, it says RIGHT ON THE Insert that the shot won’t confer immunity. My boys had it and they caught it from a fully vaxed kid & gave it to another vaxed kid. It will always be cyclical, its the nature of the disease. Blaming Jenny McCarthy or illegal immigrants ( as some articles have done) is just ignorant.

  8. Steph says:

    Children under three months are not old enough to be vaccinated so rely on the community to be vaccinated. Even if it’s not a very effective vaccine, why then is the disease more prevalent then since 1955?

    I think that on balance it is far better to vaccinate your children.

  9. Laure68 says:

    No vaccine is 100% effective on an individual basis. (In fact, nothing is 100% effective.) The idea is that, if everyone who can get vaccinated does get vaccinated, the spread of the disease will stop. This is why it is so important for adults to get their boosters.

    Again, will someone please post a link to that package insert where it says that the vaccine does not confer immunity. I have not been able to find this. (And I have found a few package inserts online, but not one that says anything like this.)

  10. JEssica says:

    Laura68, you are wrong – death is a cure to all disease and will prevent all future diseases.

  11. Laure68 says:

    D’oh!

  12. LogicalMama says:

    I got my booster last week! Kaiser covers it.

  13. [...] a germphobe. I let my kid play in the dirt and I don’t freak if she licks the monkey bars. But whooping cough has me out of my mind terrified lately, seeing’s how there’s an epidemic here in California [...]

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  19. Christine Vara says:

    I’m glad to see the author is trying to get information out to parents about the increasing number of whooping cough (or pertussis)cases we are seeing. As the parent contributor at Shot of Prevention, I have recently written an article that explains some of the reasons why pertussis is so persistent. (http://shotofprevention.com/2010/09/28/a-pertussis-comeback-blame-it-on-persistence/) It is so important that we help protect the lives of these infants, too young to be vaccinated, by getting our adult booster shots. While the disease is not as deadly to adults, we are getting it and spreading it and sometimes never even realizing it. If everyone stays up to date on their shots we can help protect these infants through herd immunity. While no vaccine is 100% effective, the reality with pertussis is that even when you contract the disease, it doesn’t not prevent you from getting it again – in other words – even then you don’t have complete immunity. However, vaccinating will reduce our risks and we must all be diligent and proactive. Ask your doctor if you are due for a booster. Suggest to your friends and family that they get a booster shot, especially if they have young children or are of child bearing age. Ensure that our children continue to get vaccinated according to schedule. Demand insurance companies cover this preventitive treatment. For more information check out the information at http://www.vaccinateyourbaby.org/.

  20. Momof4 says:

    I wonder if the first 8 babies who were misdiagnosed would have lived if they had been properly diagnosed. Getting everyone vaccinated will NOT do away w/pertussis, if the vaccine isn’t 100% effective. If vac’d kids can get it and pass it to vac’d kids, then there’s only the hope to reduce the number of infected, but not the disease itself. My nephew, who has always been kept current on his vac’s was treated for it, and I was SHOCKED at how the medical staff treated my sister. It was horrible. It’s as if they didn’t know themselves that vac’d individuals could contract the disease.

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