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Whooping cough vaccine law

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Albany/HV: Whooping cough vaccine law
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Every parent wants to make sure their child is healthy and safe. But babies most often catch Pertussis or whooping cough from their mother. In infants, it can be deadly. That's why earlier this week, a law went into effect that requires hospitals to offer the vaccine to parents and caregivers. Our Katie Gibas tells us what the new law will mean for the safety of your baby.

NEW YORK STATE -- Every year, thousands of people get Pertussis or whooping cough. In 2011, 13 people died and 11 of those were babies.

"Infants are by far the most vulnerable when it comes to whooping cough," said Dr. Cynthia Morrow, the Onondaga County Health Commissioner.

Dr. Joe Domachowske, an Upstate Medical University Professor of Pediatrics, added, "A third of the time, they get it from their mother, 20 percent of the time from their father, 15 percent of the time from an older sibling. And the rest of them usually get it from a secondary caregiver."

That's why under a New York State law that went into effect earlier this week, hospitals are now required to offer the vaccine to parents and caregivers of newborns.

"It's critically important that we vaccinate everyone who has contact with babies and moms should absolutely be vaccinated. You want the best for your baby and part of the best for your baby is to vaccinate yourself," said Morrow.

Experts say the new law is a great first step, but there still needs to be more education about the dangers of Pertussis and the benefits of getting vaccinated.

"We need to go a step further as medical providers and get the information out there. We have to implement certain basic plans. For example, when providers are giving a tetanus vaccine, to make sure it is a tetanus, diphtheria, Pertussis combination booster vaccine," said Domachowske.

Doctors say part of that education is encouraging women to get a booster vaccine while they're pregnant.

“It will prevent the infant from getting the Pertussis infection. We can start vaccinating them at two months of age and further that protection and prolong that protection as they get a little bit older," said Domachowske.

As whooping cough cases are on the rise again, health professionals hope the new law will increase access to the vaccine and encourage more people to get vaccinated.

There is a state law that requires middle schoolers to get a Pertussis booster shot before starting sixth grade.

Health providers want to remind everyone to get the combined tetanus, diphtheria and Pertussis or TDaP booster every seven to ten years.

For more information on whooping cough, visit cdc.gov/pertussis.

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