Responding to an spike in outbreaks, Southland residents and parents across the state are being urged by public health officials to ensure their children have been immunized against pertussis, also known as whooping cough, and other dangerous diseases.
According to the California Department of Public Health, more than 9,000 pertussis cases were reported in California in 2010, including 10 infant fatalities. That was the most cases in the state in more than 60 years.
"Immunizations create a shield at home and at school," said Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the CDPH. "Given recent outbreaks and epidemics nationwide, it is important that children be protected against these dangerous and highly contagious diseases, like whooping cough."
A whooping cough epidemic was declared in the state of Washington April 3. At the end of last week, 3,180 cases had been reported in that state, up from 230 during the same time period last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Minnesota and Wisconsin have also reported high rates of the disease.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law in 2010 requiring a whooping cough booster before middle and high school students can re-enter school, and incoming seventh-graders must also provide proof they have met the Tdap requirement.
Prior to the start of the 2011-2012 school year, the notified parents and guardians of students of the new requirements via letters and postcards by mail.
The district policy states that:
A record of the Tdap vaccination must be on file in your child’s school health record. Verification of Tdap vaccination must include the following:
- Tdap must be recorded on student’s immunization card: A staff member in the doctor’s office, immunization clinic and/or health official must record Tdap vaccination on the student’s immunization card.
- Date of vaccination: Health officials must record the date of vaccination.
- Doctor’s Office Stamp or signature: Immunization record must include the official stamp from the provider or signature of person giving vaccination.
The letter also states that once your child has received the vaccine to send a copy of the immunization record to the school office staff or bring the record to the school for copying.
The state's Vaccines for Children Program offers free or low-cost vaccines to children who do not have health insurance or are only partially insured, according to the CDPH. For more information one can also call the Los Angeles County Information line at 2-1-1, or visit http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/ip for referral to providers and community sites offering free or low-cost immunizations.