In the wake of a statewide whooping cough epidemic, San Mateo County health officials have launched outreach campaigns to protect infants too young to be immunized.
The California Department of Public Health last week announced the state is on its way to enduring the most illnesses and deaths as a result of whooping cough in 50 years.
Whooping cough, also called pertussis, has claimed the lives of five infants statewide as of June 15. California has recorded 910 cases as well, four times the 219 cases recorded in the same period last year. Thirty-five of those cases were in San Mateo County.
Pertussis can be prevented by vaccination and by early detection and treatment, according to San Mateo County Health Officer Dr. Scott Morrow.
Infants and young children are urged to get vaccinated, but the pertissus vaccination is first given at two months of age. The infant, however, is not adequately shielded from whooping cough until the initial series of three shots is complete at six months of age.
San Mateo County health officials are reaching out to mothers and those who care for infants or who have contact with them to protect those who are too young to be vaccinated.
The county is collaborating with physicians to ensure adult patients are reminded to get booster shots every 10 years. The health system is also reaching out to new parents through mother's groups, new parent classes and the county's birth certificate office to encourage the vaccine, according to health officials.
Whooping cough is often mistaken for the common cold or flu as it dose not always come with the characteristic cough. Check the county's special information page for more about pertussis.