MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Whooping cough cases are up at an alarming rate in Minnesota. Already this year, the state has had the most cases of pertussis (aka whooping cough) since the 1950s.
Minnesota is one of several states dealing with a severe outbreak of the disease. Some 400 new cases have popped up in Minnesota this month.
Whooping cough can be especially dangerous — even deadly — for babies and young children.
Two-month-old Isaac Verich recently got his first round of whooping cough vaccinations.
“If [children] get it, they can get pneumonia,” said Isaac’s mother, Kaia Verich. “It’s scary.”
Dr. Janelle Dailey says the number of cases she’s seeing at Fairview Clinics is high.
“It’s unusual when we have a vaccine that is preventing this illness for a resurgence to develop,” she said. “It is very concerning.”
The people contracting the disease most often are older elementary school kids and middle schoolers, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
“A few years after you’ve been vaccinated, the protection from the vaccine does start to wear off: so by the time you get to middle school an adolescent…folks are vulnerable to the disease again,” said Kris Ehresmann of the Health Department.
After the booster shot at age 5, children don’t typically get another pertussis booster until middle school. Now it’s available at age 10.
“If you are around an infant, make sure you are protected,” Ehresmann said.
Health officials say children, parents and grandparents should all be vaccinated.
Verich says they’re taking precautions in their family.
Health officials say pregnant women should also get the vaccine after 20 weeks.
The Health Department advises that you should talk to your doctor if you have any questions about who in your family needs to be vaccinated.
Health providers have also started vaccinating adults in the last five years. They think part of the spread of whooping cough might also be because not enough adults are taking the vaccine.