The CDC announced yesterday that while the national childhood vaccination rate remains high, the pertussis (whooping cough) epidemic in California — which has resulted in nine infant deaths so far — likely resulted from teens and adults spreading the bug to unvaccinated infants. Except for Haemophilus influenzae type B (viral meningitis) and measles immunizations, childhood childhood vaccination rates have increased, the latest CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report indicates. The measles vaccination rate fell from 92 to 90 percent between 2008 and 2009, just barely within the 90 percent coverage that can confer herd immunity. That's when enough of the population is vaccinated that contagious diseases no longer spread, protecting even the unvaccinated. However, Assistant Surgeon General and United States Public Health Services Director Dr. Anne Schuchat says the decrease in measles vaccination “might be a warning sign of large drops to come.”
When asked about the California whooping cough outbreak, Dr. Schuchat told the LA Times that anyone who is going to be around a baby needs to receive a TDaP booster shot, which protects against tetanus, diptheria and pertussis. "A new mother can get it right there in the hospital, as well as the father and other caretakers," she says.