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Availability Extended for Free Whooping Cough Booster Shots

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February 2, 2011

Families and caretakers of children under the age of one can get free pertussis booster shots on weekends through Feb. 13 at six Northgate markets, the County’s Health and Human Services Agency reported today (locations listed below).

In the last week, five more confirmed cases of pertussis , or whooping cough, occurred at schools where others may have been exposed to the highly contagious disease in the past week.

The number of pertussis cases are now 47 in the region for 2011. In 2010, whooping cough cases reached a record-high of 1,140 which included two infant deaths.

“The one-time pertussis booster vaccine will be given two more weekends at Northgate markets in response to the ongoing epidemic,” said Eric McDonald, M.D., M.P.H., County Deputy Public Health Officer. “In January, 5,433 people took advantage of the free booster shots at the markets to protect themselves and their loved ones.”

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.

Beginning July 1, all students entering 7th through 12th grades in both public and private schools must show proof that they have had a Tdap booster shot before they can start school. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that children receive a booster shot of Tdap vaccine at 11-12 yrs.

The CDC also 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. The vaccine is available from a primary care physician. Residents who do not have health care coverage may visit a HHSA Public Health Center.

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    

New Cases

The new pertussis cases that occurred this week are:

•         A 13-year-old who was due for a booster shot  and attends The Grauer School in Encinitas. 

•         A 10-year-old who was up-to-date on immunizations and attends Skyline Elementary School in the Solana Beach School District. 

•         A 12-year-old who was due for a booster shot and attends Challenger Middle School in the San Diego Unified School District. 

•         A 3-year-old who was unimmunized and attends El Camino Preschool in Oceanside. 

•         A 15-year-old who was due for a booster shot and attends La Costa Canyon High School in the San Dieguito Union High School District. 

Free Vaccine Locations 

Free pertussis vaccines for individuals who have contact with children under one year of age are available weekends through Feb. 13  at local Northgate markets from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the following locations:

•         2909 Coronado Ave., San Diego, 92154

•         1410 S. 43rd St., San Diego, 92113

•         1058 3rd Ave., Chula Vista, 91911

•         606 N. Escondido Blvd., Escondido, 92025

•         1150 E. Vista Way, Vista, 92084

•         1346 S. Mission Rd., Fallbrook, 92028



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