Experts: Whooping cough is not a thing of the past - WNEM TV 5

Experts: Whooping cough is not a thing of the past

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Local health experts are warning families about a potentially deadly disease often thought of as a thing of the past.

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is a highly contagious respiratory infection. The good news is the illness is easily preventable, according local health officials.

“During pregnancy, mothers need to know that the best protection they can give their newborn baby is to get a dose of Tdap during pregnancy between 27 and 36 weeks. This develops antibodies that protect and are then passed on to her baby before birth,” stated Genesee County Health Department Public Health Supervisor, Mary Baird.

The Genesee County Health Department said while they no longer see the number of cases in the United States as before the vaccine was made available, it is still a growing concern - especially for infants and children. 

Up to 20 babies die each year in the United States due to pertussis. In 2016 there were over 100 cases of pertussis in the state of Michigan.

“These 100 cases could have been avoided through a simple Tdap vaccination,” said Genesee County Health Department Medical Director, Doctor Gary Johnson.

The health department offers off-site vaccination clinics at health fairs, at its WIC clinic on Saginaw Street, businesses, senior centers, schools, and partner with other local organizations. 

Last year alone the health department attended 217 clinics and provided 482 life-saving Tdap vaccines at offsite clinics throughout Genesee County.

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