Washington Steps Up Fight Against Whooping Cough

May 4, 2012

The number of whooping cough cases in Washington State is rising rapidly that the Governor has gotten involved.  Thursday Governor Chris Gregoire announced she’s releasing $90,000 in emergency funds to step up the state’s public awareness campaign.

Under the watchful eye of her mother, TV cameras, and the Governor, four year-old Kimberly Magdeleno reacts as the nurse gives her a series of shots. One of them is the vaccine for pertussis, or whooping cough.  Her crying quickly fades when the nurse rewards her with a set of stickers.

Governor Gregoire made a stop at this community clinic in Tacoma to underscore a serious issue. There are now more than 1,100 confirmed cases of whooping cough in Washington State. It’s the highest number of cases in decades.

Babies are especially vulnerable. They have no defenses to whooping cough since they’re too young to be vaccinated.  So the state will beef up efforts to get the message out: People should take the time to get their booster shots, because babies aren’t getting whooping cough from other babies.  "They’re getting it from unvaccinated adults and teenagers," said Governor Gregoire. "Adults who were vaccinated as children are no longer immune. We need boosters in our teens and as adults.”

Beginning next week, more than 27,000 doses of whooping cough vaccine will be available for people without health insurance. Gregoire says she’s prepared to allocate more money for vaccines, if needed.

The number of whooping cases is ten times higher than they were the same time last year.