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New Whooping Cough Vaccination Law Takes Effect

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June 29, 2011

As the number of San Diego County pertussis cases continues to rise, local public health officials are reminding parents the new California state law requiring pertussis booster vaccinations before students enroll in public or private schools takes effect on Friday, 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,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has released two public service announcements reminding parents of the new law, an English version and a Spanish version.

Three 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 on the second page.

There have been 269 new cases reported in San Diego County in 2011.  Last year, whooping cough cases reached a record 1,144 cases for the county, including two infant deaths.

Residents without a regular healthcare provider can get vaccinated at a HHSA Public Health Center. The CDPH 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

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

•         An 9-year-old who is up-to-date with immunizations and attends La Costa Heights Elementary School in the Encinitas Union School District. 

•         An 11-year-old who is due for a booster shot and attends El Camino Creek Elementary School in the Encinitas Union School District. 

•         An 11-year-old who is up-to-date with immunizations and attends Foothill Oak Elementary School in the Vista Unified School District.