"We're seeing more pertussis now than we have in earlier years. When the final numbers are in for 2012, the number of reported cases will probably be around 35,000," Meissner said. "But the actual number could be far more than that, because they don't all get documented. There were about 20 deaths last year, primarily children in the first two to three months of life."
Meissner, who also is chief of pediatric infectious disease at the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, said that children in this age group don't yet have protection from vaccines. Since the vaccine crosses through the placenta, an immunization given later in the pregnancy should offer a high level of immunity to the baby.
He added that it's also a good idea for anyone who will be around the baby, including the father, siblings and grandparents, to be sure they're up to date on their vaccines.
Another expert said the resurgence of whooping cough is most likely due to a change in vaccine design that got rid of many side effects, but did so at the cost of long-term effectiveness.
Dr. Lorry Rubin, director of pediatric infectious diseases at the Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York, in New Hyde Park, said the current vaccines don't last as long as would be ideal.
Rubin, who also is a member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices that develops vaccination guidelines, discussed the new idea in the guidelines that people who have mild egg allergies can still get a flu shot.
"If you have a localized reaction to eggs, meaning hives, and not a systemic reaction, like tongue swelling or wheezing, the flu vaccine should be very well tolerated," said Rubin, who added that it's important to have the immunization done at a doctor's office, where immediate care can be provided if a serious reaction does occur.
Rubin also said it's not too late to get a flu shot this year. Altho
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