NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Six infants in California have died from Pertussis, or whooping cough, this year and experts in the Mid-State are now warning of the dangers.
Whooping cough is very contagious and can cause serious illness, especially in infants who are too young to be fully vaccinated.
Jennifer Lineburger's kids are seven and nine now, but when they were babies they caught whopping cough.
“They had a really hard time breathing, I had to prop them up, it was really scary,” Lineburger recalled. “Their pediatrician told us it could be fatal so it was a really scary time.”
Other mothers like Kandace Kapanka share Lineburger's fears.
“I would be nervous about passing it on, not necessarily for myself, but passing it on to my kids,” the mother of four told News 2.
“I know I was vaccinated as a child but I have not had a vaccine since,” mom Suzie Epstein added.
Local health officials are urging parents to get both themselves and children vaccinated.
“We certainly recommend that all parents, those who are about to be parents, new parents, get vacationed as well as everyone else that's around that baby,” said Vanderbilt University Chair of Preventative Medicine Dr. William Schaffner.
Schaffner, an infectious disease expert, warns that infants are the most susceptible to whooping cough and even though they get the vaccine when they're a few months old, it may not work right away.
“They're not fully protected really until the first year of life,” he said. “During that time they are still venerable and they're the ones that get sick the worst.”
Local health departments offer the vaccine, called Tdap in its shortened form, at no charge.
Visit Health.Nashville.gov for more information about receiving the vaccine.