OLYMPIA -- Governor Chris Gregoire is declaring war on a fast spreading epidemic, the first in Washington State in decades. Health officials say so far this year there have been 1,132 reported cases of whooping cough, ten times more than the same time last year. They say the state is on track to see 3,000 cases this year.
Whooping cough, also called pertussis, is spread by coughing and sneezing and is potentially deadly to children. The Governor is taking $90,000 out of contingencies to fund an awareness campaign urging teens and adults to get pertussis booster shots, also called T-DAP. Gregoire also said the feds will allow the state to reassign money to buy 27,000 doses of T-DAP for uninsured adults.
"We're stepping up our efforts to save the lives of our babies," Gregoire said.
Seattle mother, Heidi Bruch, says she had whooping cough when she gave birth and unknowingly gave it to her baby. She says her childhood immunizations were no longer effective, but no doctors told her she needed a booster during her two pregnancies. She watched in horror as her baby struggled to breathe.
"She was choking and she turned blue, completely blue," recalls Bruch. "I thought 'Oh God! I had given my daughter a potentially fatal disease that was totally preventable." Her daughter recovered after spending a month at Seattle Children's.
Teens and adults should get T-DAP boosters every five to ten years. Please consult your health provider.
On Wednesday, May 9 at 7:30 p.m., Jean Enersen will host a Healthlink Special, “Whooping Cough Epidemic: Protecting Our Families.” The show will look into the outbreak and provide important information to help navigate this epidemic.