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Pertussis Vaccines Reduce Risk of Disease

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January 20, 2011

The number of pertussis cases in the region remains high, a sign that the epidemic continues. Five of the individuals recently diagnosed with pertussis attend schools where others may have been exposed, the County’s Health and Human Services Agency reported today. This week’s new pertussis cases where there is a potential for public exposure are:

  • A 16-year-old who was due for a booster shot and attends San Marcos High School in the San Marcos Unified School District.
  • A 9-year-old who was up-to-date on immunizations and attends Foothill Oak Elementary School in the Vista Unified School District.
  • A 10-year-old who was up-to-date on immunizations and attends Oak Park Elementary School in the San Diego Unified School District.
  • An 8-year-old who was up-to-date on immunizations and attends Valley Elementary School in the Poway Unified School District.
  • A 10-year-old who was up-to-date on immunizations and attends Rock Springs Elementary School in the Escondido Union School District.

A total of 29 cases of pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, have been reported so far in 2011 in San Diego County. In 2010, reported whooping cough cases reached a record-high of 1,137 which included two infant deaths from pertussis.

“It’s important for parents to remain vigilant and make sure their children have all the recommended doses of the pertussis vaccine, including the booster shot,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer. Free pertussis vaccines for individuals who have contact with children under one year of age are available on weekends this month 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

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.

Additionally, 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

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