California public health officials have asked pregnant women, elderly as well as children to get vaccinated for whooping cough as they fear that this year's epidemic could be one of the worst ever.
Dr. Gil Chavez, the state's epidemiologist, said that over 1,500 cases have been reported so far, which is five times that of last year. He added that five infants have died of whooping cough so far this year.
On Monday, children age 7 and older; adults age 64 and older; women before, during and immediately after pregnancy were included in vaccination recommendations issued by the Department of Public Health.
"It's time for Californians to help us by getting vaccinated and protecting themselves," Chavez said.
He also added that the department had provided free vaccines to local hospitals and community clinics to increase awareness about the need for vaccination.