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Teens' Tdap Shot Record is School Prerequisite

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July 21, 2011

A Tdap booster for pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, should be at the top of the back-to-school checklist for parents of middle and high school students, according to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency.

The number of pertussis cases went up to 290 for the region in 2011. This week’s new cases of pertussis included: a 9-year-old who attends the YMCA Mission Valley and a 7-year-old who attends Shoal Creek Elementary School in the Poway Unified School District. Both students were up-to-date with immunizations and potentially exposed others to the disease. Whooping cough cases in the region reached a record 1,144 cases, including two infant deaths last year.

 “We are strongly recommending that parents get their middle and high school students a booster shot before the new school year, or obtain proof of having received it previously,” said Eric McDonald, M.D., M.P.H., County Deputy Public Health Officer. “The number of parents with teens seeking shots is increasing at our clinics and we want to remind families to seek care early to avoid the rush.”

Residents without a regular healthcare provider can get vaccinated at a HHSA Public Health Center. 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 healthcare workers, who have contact with pregnant women or infants. Children 7 to 9 years of age who did not receive all of their routine childhood shots are recommended to receive a Tdap booster dose.

A typical case of pertussis 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