Family who lost child takes fight to whooping cough

For months, one Snohomish County family has waged a single-minded campaign to urge teens and adults to get vaccinated against whooping cough.

With 640 cases now confirmed it Washington, state health officials on Tuesday declared the disease is epidemic.

But for family members of 18-year-old Tanner Jeffery of Lake Stevens and 17-year-old Chelsey Charles, of Clearview, the issue is far bigger than news of the rapid spread of the disease. Last year, they learned just how deadly it can be.

Tanner Jeffery and Chelsey Charles’ baby daughter, Kaliah Jeffery, died from whooping cough at Seattle Children’s Hospital on Aug. 16, just 27 days after she was born.

“The disease just takes over,” Chelsey Charles said Tuesday. “It’s terrible.”

Relatives of the baby’s parents vowed to do everything they could to try to prevent another family from suffering a similar tragedy.

Tonya Lively, Tanner Jeffery’s aunt who works as a medical assistant at The Everett Clinic, launched a Facebook page, www.snohd.org.

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