Update: Whooping Cough Numbers Remain High

Thursday, February 2, 2012 - 3:11am

Inadequate Vaccination Rates May be a Factor

There were 22 cases of pertussis reported in Dane County in December, and 20 cases reported in January, with a handful more waiting for confirmation. Normally we would expect no more than 2 or 3 cases per month. Most of these newly reported cases are children age 14 and under. High numbers are still being reported in other areas of Wisconsin. These numbers should be taken seriously since pertussis is a communicable disease that can be life-threatening, particularly among infants-and it is preventable. Since infants under 6 weeks of age cannot be vaccinated, their best hope of protection comes from making sure that all those in contact with the baby have been vaccinated. The recommendations for vaccination (Tdap vaccine) now also include pregnant women. Women who receive this vaccine during pregnancy may provide some protection to their newborn by transferred immunity. Infants are not fully protected until they have received 3 vaccine doses and are 6-12 months of age.

"This is an extremely frustrating situation for us in Public Health because as of 2010, 21 percent of all children turning 2 years old were not fully vaccinated against this life-threatening and largely preventable disease" according to Cheryl Robinson, Public Health Nurse Supervisor for PHMDC. "It might be hard for parents to find time for all the immunizations children need, but it's really important that they get this done."

Aside from the high medical risks associated with pertussis, there are financial issues as well. A working parent could easily lose a week's salary from either catching the disease or having to take care of a sick infant or child. Such losses can be prevented. According to Janel Heinrich, Interim Director of PHMDC, "as individuals we have the power to protect ourselves, our families and our community from this terrible threat. If a family has difficulty with health coverage, they can come to Public Health to get these vaccines at no charge."

For more detailed information on pertussis including details about vaccination requirements for children, teens and adults:


For information on where to get free immunizations:


Public Health - Madison & Dane County


  • Jeff Golden(608) 243-0302