RALEIGH – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services today reported the first infant death from whooping cough this year. The child, who was only two months old, was from Forsyth County.
Whooping cough is a highly contagious illness that is spread from person to person usually by coughing or sneezing. It can be serious at any age, but is life-threatening in newborns and infants who are too young to be fully vaccinated, according to the Dept. of Health and Human Services.
Many infants who get whooping cough are infected by caregivers who might not even know they have the disease.
“Babies and young children are not fully immunized until they have finished a series of vaccinations, so their only protection against whooping cough is the people around them,” said State Health Director Dr. Laura Gerald. “Anyone who lives with or will be around a baby should be vaccinated.”
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services announced in March that the vaccine that protects against pertussis, would be available at no-cost to anyone 7 years and older for a limited time. Different health care providers may charge different fees for the vaccine.
“State law requires pertussis vaccinations for pre-school and school-age children, but we know that immunity wanes over the years,” Dr. Gerald said. “A booster shot is a safe and effective way for adolescents and adults to protect themselves and those they love.”