Washington state surpasses 2,000 pertussis cases

Washington state has had more than 2,000 reported cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, since the beginning of 2012, hitting numbers that the state has not experienced since the 1940s.

The number of cases represents a 12-fold increase over the previous year. While most adults do not get symptoms from a pertussis infection, the main issue is when they pass the disease to a child, KOMO News reports.

"Actually, our little babies are in the most danger," Mary Selecky, the state secretary of Washington, said, according to KOMO News. "When they get a coughing fit, their throats close up on them, which is why they turn blue."

Shots typically cost as much as $80, but the state has waived the fee for people who say they cannot afford the price.

"We are making the vaccine available for adults at no cost," Selecky said, according to KOMO News. "We are sending vaccine to every local health department. They are working with providers so they should call their health department to see where they can get a free shot. We are more interested in getting the vaccine into your arm, rather than going through any means test. If you need it, we want to give it to you."