The Whooping Cough outbreak in California has been making news for awhile, and an official epidemic was declared a few weeks ago. The outbreak, which is the largest in the last 50 years, is largely blamed on the number of parents who opt out of vaccinations in that state.
After confirming that another infant has died of the disease—the third in L.A. county and the 6th in California this year—the state has ratcheted the pressure up a notch with a widespread press campaign asking people to get the Pertussis vaccine. Not everyone is asked to vaccinate (at least not yet). Pregnant women are high on the list for several reasons.
Pregnancy makes women particularly vulnerable to the disease due to their compromised immune systems. They are also at risk of passing the disease on to their infants. An estimated 38% of Pertussis patients caught the disease from their mothers. Fathers and other caregivers of infants and small children are also being encouraged to get the vaccine.
Vaccinations are at a low point in California as many parents choose to delay or avoid vaccinating for fear of side effects. The CDC, in what seems to be an attempt to soothe and sway worried parents, reported that the DTaP vaccine for Pertussis (among other things) is safe, and that previous associations with febrile seizures are no longer a risk.