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Teens Required to Show Proof of Tdap Shot for School

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July 27, 2011

Middle and high school students have to show proof they’ve received a booster shot for pertussis, also known as whooping cough, in order to enroll in school.

There are three places where students may get the Tdap vaccine, their primary care physician, a local retail pharmacy or, if they don’t have insurance, a County public health center.   

“While the state is giving parents a 30-day grace period to obtain the booster shot, we recommend that parents vaccinate their children as soon as possible,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer. “If they wait until the last minute, there may be a backlog of teens all trying to get a booster shot right before school starts.”

The number of pertussis cases reached 295 as of last week and is on track to hit 300 cases in the first seven months of 2011, according to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency.

A new case of pertussis was reported this week in a 3-year-old who was up-to-date with immunizations, attends the Unitarian Cooperative Preschool in San Diego 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.

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