Pertussis vaccine available at Camp Pendleton hospital and health clinics

The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency reported on Friday that it has seen an increase in cases of pertussis in the county, as well as on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton medical staff encouraged all parents on the base to vaccinate their children against the illness, which can be fatal in infants. Parents, family members and caregivers were also encouraged to receive a vaccination or booster shot.

NHCP staff said the vaccine is safe for pregnant women, before, during and after childbirth.

NHCP said the vaccine would be available at primary care clinics, as well Regimental and Battalion aid stations.

Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a respiratory disease that may cause runny nose, sneezing and a mild cough. Typically, the cough becomes more severe and the patient may experience rapid, violent coughing followed by a sharp intake of breath, which causes a "whoop" sound. The disease may cause serious complications or permanent disability and death in infants and children.

In 2012, more than 48,000 cases of whooping cough were reported in the U.S., according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. That year, 20 deaths due to whooping cough were reported, with the majority being children under the age of 3 months of age.