Bill would offer whooping cough vaccine for infants

All hospitals in the state would be required to offer whooping cough vaccines to infants under a proposal that easily cleared the state House on Thursday.

Currently, hospitals are required to provide parents of newborns educational information about the highly contagious disease also known as pertussis.

The requirement under House Bill 451 that hospitals offer the vaccine does not mandate that parents accept the procedure for their children.

Parents who decline to have their children vaccinated, will instead be provided information about the vaccine.

HB451, state Rep. Regina Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, said the bill is about providing parents information to help them make informed decisions.

The measure passed by a 90-0 margin. It heads to the Senate for further consideration.

Whooping cough, which can cause serious illness in infants, children and adults, is caused by a bacteria called Bordetella pertussis. The disease is marked by common cold-like symptoms that can progress into a series of violent and rapid coughing fits and sometimes into life-threatening pauses in breathing, known as apnea.