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Whooping Cough Is Now An Epidemic In California

Whooping cough is now an epidemic in California, and state health officials are pushing a more aggressive vaccination policy.

So far this year, nearly 1,500 Californians have been infected with whooping cough, also known as pertussis. That’s five times more than this time last year.

"We are facing what could be the worst year for pertussis in California in about 50 years,” said Gil Chavez, the state’s epidemiologist.

Chavez says they’re expanding vaccine recommendations. He says anyone seven or older who’s not immunized should be, including those over 64.

And Chavez says it’s critical for pregnant women to get the vaccine, because infants are most at risk. Five have died this year. Chavez says adults who’ve had the shot as a child still need the vaccine:

“Immunity from vaccination wanes over time -– and immunity from natural disease also wanes over time, so boostering people for vaccine with pertussis is also very, very important,” said Chavez.

Chavez says that’s why the disease tends to run in cycles, as immunity wanes every five years or so.