Thank you for your May 23 editorial, "Lifesaving vaccines declined by too many in Washington," calling attention to the current whooping cough or pertussis epidemic in our state.
Washington has about 1,700 cases, with Benton and Franklin counties at about 40 cases. There were 140 statewide cases this time last year.
California had a similar outbreak two years ago, causing 10 infant deaths. Here, infectious disease experts predict it's just a matter of time. This infection can cause an irritating and persistent cough in adults and older children but if passed to a young infant can cause a grave, possibly fatal, illness.
Infected infants have severe coughing fits, struggle to breathe, may turn blue and eventually become too weak to breathe. Medical intervention may come too late. See and hear Kaliah and Gavin's story on www.shotbyshot.org. It is important that all parents and caretakers of infants less than 1 have a pertussis booster in the form of the TDAP vaccine. This vaccine can be obtained at the Benton Franklin Health clinic. Vaccine clinics are being scheduled to provide the shots at no cost for those who are underinsured or uninsured and come in contact with young infants. Call 547-9737 or go to www.bfhd.wa.gov for more information and help protect our babies.
Dr. Nancy Baxter, West Richland