With the start of a new school year approaching, California health officials are encouraging parents to get their 11 and 12-year-olds immunized for pertussis -- or, whooping cough. According to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), more than 9,000 cases of whooping cough were reported in California in 2010, including 10 infant deaths.
“Immunizations create a shield at school and home,” said CDPH Director Dr. Ron Chapman. “Given recent outbreaks and epidemics nationwide, it is important that children be protected against these dangerous and highly contagious diseases, like whooping cough.”
About two years ago a new law was signed into effect, requiring students to get a whooping cough booster shot before middle school and high school. If kids have limited or no health insurance, there are alternative programs that provide vaccines for little or no charge.
KPCC reports that even though the U.S. is seeing a spike in whooping cough cases, California has been lucky overall.
“We’re very fortunate in 2012 to not be seeing what’s being seen in many of the other states this year,"
Kathleen Harriman, an epidemiologist with the CDPH,
told KPCC. "We had an epidemic in 2010 in California and right now we’re on the downward side of that epidemic."
August is National Immunization Awareness Month, aimed at reminding all residents that flu season is approaching, as well as targeting students who are headed to dormitories or back to the classrooms. For more information on vaccinations required and recommended for students, visit Shots for Schools.