Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is endemic in California, the U.S., and the world. The County of Santa Clara Public Health Department has identified an uptick in pertussis cases in our county since April 2018, including cases among infants.
Pertussis is naturally cyclic in nature, with peaks every 3 to 5 years. The last peak year was 2014. Pertussis has increased in California in 2018 and 2019, but not to the extent of the 2010 or 2014 epidemics, which were both widespread. The County of Santa Clara Public Health Department, as well as the state of California Department of Public Health (CDPH), continue to monitor the situation.
Consider pertussis in patients with severe or persistent cough, especially if fever is absent. Vaccinated patients who develop pertussis will typically have milder illness. Report suspected and confirmed cases of pertussis to us by faxing a Confidential Morbidity Report Form.
All pregnant women should receive the Tdap vaccine during every pregnancy, regardless of vaccination history, preferably between 27 and 36 weeks’ gestation. If a postpartum mother has never received Tdap, promptly administer Tdap before discharge home. Vaccination of pregnant women with Tdap is covered by health insurers, including Medi-Cal.
Prenatal care providers who do not carry Tdap in their office should ensure that their pregnant patients receive the vaccine from another source such as their primary care provider or a pharmacy. Prenatal care providers should follow up with patients on a subsequent visit to ensure the patent was vaccinated and to help find a source of vaccine if the patient was not vaccinated.
In addition to pregnant women, everyone around young infants should be up to date with their pertussis vaccines. This includes parents, siblings, grandparents, other family members, and caregivers.
CDPH currently recommends that young infants can receive their first dose of vaccine against pertussis (called DTaP) as early as 6 weeks of age.
Healthcare workers should ensure they are up to date with pertussis vaccination, especially those who care for infants.