NEW YORK, April 22 (UPI) -- U.S. film star and singer Jennifer Lopez, the mother of twins, wants parents and adults to get a pertussis, or whooping cough, vaccine to protect infants.
"This issue is important to me. I didn't know too much about it before becoming a parent but whooping cough is on the rise. There have been a significant increase in reported cases over the past decade," Lopez told United Press International.
"Parents don't realize that they can get pertussis and transmit the disease to their babies."
Lopez is the spokeswoman for the Sounds of Pertussis, a joint initiative of the March of Dimes and sanofi pasteur, to raise awareness that all new parents and others in close contact with infants, get vaccinated with an adult tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis vaccine.
"The message is that infants are at risk of getting pertussis from the adults around them and the disease can be so severe in babies and sometimes even fatal."
An infant is at risk for whopping cough until the entire set of immunizations is completed the first year.
Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory disease characterized by a "whoop" sound in children who try to breathe in after a severe coughing spell. In adults, pertussis can appear as a cold, a cough or the flu.
The Tdap vaccine is effective. Anyone ages 11 to 64 should get the adult pertussis vaccine if it's been 5 to 10 years since their last Tetanus and Diphtheria vaccine.
For more information, visit soundsofpertussis.com