An infant has died of whooping cough in Florida a tragedy that underscores just how important it is to get vaccinated.
The 6-week-old baby boy was too young to have gotten his first pertussis vaccine, but not all of his family members were up to date with theirs, Sarah Matthews, an epidemiologist for the Orange County Health Department, told the Orlando Sentinel.
Anybody who is around a baby too young to be vaccinated has to be up to date on vaccines, she said.
It s the county s first whooping cough death in over 20 years, she added.
Last year whooping cough sickened 41,880 people in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the most since 1959. Eighteen people were killed by the disease last year, mostly children.
Pertussis used to sicken hundreds of thousands until a vaccine was introduced in the 1940s.
Part of the reason for the rise is the reluctance of some parents to vaccinate their children, but the resistance offered by the current acellular vaccine also seems to wane over time.
In Boulder County, Colo., health officials are dealing with an outbreak of whooping cough that has hit 68 adolescents this year.
ACSH's Dr. Josh Bloom says, "Even if you are adamantly against being vaccinated, keep in mind that your decision to avoid vaccination will affect others. There is no better example of this than what happened here. Someone wasn't properly protected and a baby died." He adds, "Let's give a shout-out to Dr. Andrew Wakefield, whose fraudulent research linking vaccines to autism scared people so badly that many avoided getting necessary vaccines. I hope he's sleeping well tonight."