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Pertussis Vaccinations Can Reduce Summer Caseload

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June 22, 2011

Public health officials recommend that parents vaccinate their children against pertussis now since the disease typically spikes during the summer months.

Four students at different schools were confirmed to have pertussis in the past week, potentially exposing other students and staff to the disease. See the list of schools below.

This year, 261 new cases have been reported in San Diego County.  Last year, whooping cough cases reached a record 1,144 cases for the county, including two infant deaths.

“Make it a priority to get your child vaccinated for pertussis so that they don’t get it from others this summer. June and July are usually the peak months for cases,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer. “Additionally, if you have a middle or high school age student, they need to provide proof of getting a pertussis vaccination before they can start school in the fall. Check this off your to-do list early.”

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.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that children get one dose of the childhood vaccine (DTaP) at the following ages: 2 months; 4 months; 6 months; 15 to 18 months and 4 to 6 years. Children should receive a Tdap booster shot at 11 or 12 years of age. Beginning July 1, all students in grades 7 through 12, in public and private schools, must show proof that they had the pertussis booster shot before they return to school.

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

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

•         A 9-year-old who is up-to-date with immunizations and attends Joli Ann Leichtag Elementary School in the San Marcos Unified School District. 

•         A 9-year-old who is up-to-date with immunizations and attends Highland Ranch Elementary School in the Poway Unified School District. 

•         A 14-year-old who is due for a booster shot and attends Bell Middle School in the San Diego Unified School District. 

•         A 12-year-old who is due for a booster shot and attends Bay Park Elementary School in the San Diego Unified School District.