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Whooping Cough Immunizations, Booster Shots Protect Children

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March 3, 2011

Pertussis vaccinations and a one-time booster shot can protect children against outbreaks of the highly contagious disease in schools, according to the County Health and Human Services Agency.

In San Diego County, six additional confirmed cases of pertussis were reported at seven school sites in the past week potentially exposing other students and staff, county health officials reported today. Please see second page for school details.

The recent cases bring the year’s case total to 101 to date.  Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, reached epidemic status and a new county record with 1,144 cases including two infant deaths in 2010.

“If every child received their five childhood vaccinations and a booster shot for all children older than 10 years old, it would greatly reduce the current epidemic status of pertussis in the state and the county,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer. “Starting this fall, teenagers entering middle and high schools must now  provide proof that they have had a pertussis booster shot in order to enroll for classes.”

Residents can get vaccinated at their primary care doctor or at an HHSA Public Health Center if they don’t have a regular healthcare provider.

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.

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.

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    

New Cases

The new pertussis cases reported this week are:

•         A 19-month-old and who was not up-to-date on immunizations and attends The Kids Bay Learning Center in Carmel Valley. 

•         A 10-year-old who was up-to-date on vaccinations and attends Reynolds Elementary School in the Oceanside Unified School District. 

•         A 10-year-old who was not up-to-date on vaccinations and attends Mission Elementary School in the Oceanside Unified School District. 

•         An 11-year-old who was due for a booster shot and attends Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in the Oceanside Unified School District. 

•         A 15-year-old who was up-to-date on immunizations and attends Escondido Charter High School in Escondido and Palomar College in Escondido. 

•         A 5-year-old who was up-to-date with immunizations and attends Santa Sophia Academy Preschool in Spring Valley.  


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