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Promoting an Optimal State of Wellness

Lake County, Calif. (May 2, 2017) - Babies at Risk of Whooping Cough Because Moms Are Not Getting Immunized - Lake County Health Services is urging all pregnant women to get immunized against whooping cough (also known as pertussis) at the earliest opportunity, between 27-36 weeks gestation, even if they received immunization in the past. “It’s crucial that every pregnant woman get immunized as early as possible in her third trimester,” said Dr. Karen Tait, local health officer of Lake County. “By getting the whooping cough vaccine, called Tdap, during pregnancy, women are passing on protective antibodies needed to greatly lower their babies’ risk of developing pertussis in early life.”

Despite this recommendation, a recent survey conducted by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) shows that Tdap immunization coverage among pregnant women is suboptimal. In 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, self-reported Tdap immunization rates for pregnant women in California were low at just 49%. Low Tdap immunizations rates in pregnant women are a contributing factor to the high whooping cough rates among infants. In 2015, 326 whooping cough cases among infants less than 4 months of age were reported to the California Department of Public Health.

Thus far, 99 pertussis cases among infants less than four months of age have been reported to CDPH for 2016 and two babies died.

Whooping cough is a cyclical disease that peaks every 3-5 years. Given that the last whooping cough epidemic was in 2014, health officials are concerned the next peak will occur as early as this year. “Getting Tdap during pregnancy is very safe and our best shot at protecting babies before the next epidemic hits,” said Dr. Karen Tait.

Studies have shown that as many as 9 out of 10 babies will be protected against whooping cough if their mothers get a whooping cough vaccine while pregnant. Even if babies get whooping cough, the transferred antibodies can help protect them from dangerous complications and hospitalization.

Pregnant women are encouraged to contact their prenatal care providers, clinics or pharmacies about obtaining the Tdap vaccine. Medi-Cal now offers Tdap and other adult immunizations as a pharmacy benefit. If their prenatal care provider does not immunize in the clinic, pregnant women can locate an in-network pharmacy by calling the member services number located on the back of their Medi-Cal or Partnership Health Plan Benefits Identification Card. For patients enrolled in Medi-Cal Fee-For-Service (or pregnancy-only Medi-Cal), call 1-800-541-5555 (or if calling from a cell phone with an out-of-state area code, call 916-636-1980).

Tdap vaccines are also available at Public Health.   For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call Public Health at:

Lake County Public Health
922 Bevins Court
Lakeport, CA 95453
(707) 263-1090
(800) 794-9291