Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 (coronavirus)

Mother Urges Adults To Get Whooping Cough Vaccine


A San Diego mother who nearly lost her newborn baby to whooping cough earlier this summer is encouraging adults to get immunized.

— A San Diego mother who nearly lost her newborn baby to whooping cough earlier this summer is encouraging adults to get immunized. Jozaiah Tremain spent 15 days in the hospital last month. He was only four weeks old.

You'd never know he'd been through such trauma as he looks up at his mother and makes happy baby noises.

But only weeks ago, he was in intensive care at Rady’s Children’s hospital in San Diego.

“When they couldn’t get him to slow down his breathing and they’re telling me I’m going to the ICU and then when he started retaining that fluid and he was so swollen. That was pretty scary,” Roxie Tremain says.

Jozaiah was diagnosed early with whooping cough and received treatment quickly.

Video unavailable. Read transcript below.

Above: Roxie Tremain, her baby Jozaiah, and her father-in-law George Tremain talk about the need for adults to get immunized against whooping cough.

So far this year, seven babies have died from whooping cough, also know as pertussis, in California including a two-month-old baby boy in San Diego.

“Just to go through those things and not bring my baby home I couldn’t even imagine,” Tremain says.

Jozaiah likely caught the illness from his older brother or mother -– both were diagnosed with a much milder case. Ironically the 11-year-old brother was scheduled for his whooping cough booster on the day his mom went into labor and the appointment was cancelled.

Dr. Dean Sidelinger is San Diego County’s deputy public health officer.

“Adults and adolescents simply don’t have the immunities they had when they were kids and they finished their vaccines and for that reason a booster shot was developed for pertussis and we started using that about five years ago,” says Dr. Dean Sidelinger.

Now the Tremain family is going public with their story, hoping to encourage parents and grandparents to get immunized.

“You might be in the grocery store and coughing because you have an itch in your throat and you're coughing and you have no idea you’re giving whooping cough to the baby next to you,” Tremain says.


San Diego News Matters podcast branding

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.

  • Don’t have time to keep up on the latest news? We’ve got you covered with a mid-week check-in every Wednesday afternoon.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Curious San Diego banner

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.