Orange County and the rest of California have been hit with 4,200 whooping cough cases. That's the highest number in nearly 50 years. Orange County health officials are hosting free vaccination clinics to try to stem the number of cases and potential deaths.
Orange County doctors have reported 297 confirmed, probable or suspected cases of whooping cough – also known as pertussis – since the beginning of this year.
Last year, only about 40 cases surfaced in the same time period.
Public health officials say what worries them the most is that 40 percent of the cases are in babies under 6 months old. That’s the age group most prone to dying from whooping cough because there’s no immunity.
The Orange County Health Care Agency has hosted several pertussis vaccination clinics for people ages 10 to 64 who don’t have insurance or access to the vaccine.
They are hosting another one at UCI Medical Center in Orange, on the south side of the neuropsychiatric center Wednesday afternoon, from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m.
So far this year, California has reported nine deaths from whooping cough. Two people who died were infants in San Bernardino County.