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Whooping Cough Persistent in Schools

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A student at a South Bay elementary school may have exposed classmates to pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency is reporting.

This new case and three others reported this past week, bring the total to 185 so far this year. See below for specific school information.

“Whooping cough continues to spread in schools. The DTaP vaccines can help protect children against this highly contagious illness,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer. “Beginning July 1, all students in 7th through 12th grade, in both public and private schools, will need to present proof that they have received the pertussis booster shot before they return to school.”

Last year, there were a record 1,144 pertussis cases in the county, including two infant deaths.

Residents can get vaccinated at their primary care doctor or at an HHSA Public Health Center if they don’t have a regular healthcare provider.

The California Department of Public Health recommends a pertussis booster vaccine (Tdap) for

everyone 10 years or older who has not yet received it, especially women of childbearing age, before, during, or immediately after pregnancy; and other people, including household contacts, caregivers, and health care workers, who have contact with pregnant women or infants. Children 7-9 years of age who did not receive all of their routine childhood shots are recommended to receive a Tdap booster dose.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that children get one dose of DTaP vaccine at the following ages: 2 months; 4 months; 6 months; 15 to 18 months and 4 to 6 years. Children should receive a booster shot of Tdap vaccine at 11-12 years of age.

A typical case of pertussis in children and adults starts with a cough and runny nose for one-to-two weeks, followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits that sometimes end with a whooping sound. Fever, if present, is usually mild. The disease is treatable with antibiotics.  For more information about whooping cough, please call the HHSA Immunization Branch at (866) 358-2966, or visit the web site at    

This week’s new pertussis cases where there is a potential for public exposure are:

•         An 11-year-old who was due for a booster shot and attends Oneonta Elementary School in the South Bay Union School District.