CDC recommends whopping cough booster shots

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended this week that adults get booster shots against whooping cough to prevent the disease from spreading to groups more at risk for complications.

Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, is at its highest number of cases in the United States in 50 years. As of the end of August, 46 states have reported a higher number of cases than in 2011 and the state of Washington has reported more than 3,000 cases. The total number of cases for the year stands at approximately 22,000 in the United States, LiveScience reports.

Vaccination rates are dropping and there is speculation that the vaccine has become weaker against the infectious disease. The CDC recommends that children receive five doses of the DTaP vaccine between the ages of two months and six years. The organization also recommends that older children and most adults get the whooping cough booster shot.

"Individuals who are not vaccinated against whooping cough have eight times the risk of infection compared to people who are fully vaccinated, (and) vaccination rates have steadily declined over recent years," Heidi Renner, the assistant professor of pediatrics at Loyola University Chicago's Stritch School of Medicine, said, according to LiveScience. "Shockingly, only 8.2 percent of U.S. adults have received the recommended pertussis booster."

Pertussis causes a high-pitch cough that can last for more than two months and be fatal among infants. Thirteen people, most of them children, have died from the outbreak in the United States this year.