California students must have whooping cough immunizations by fall
A new law goes into effect on July 1, requiring middle and high school students to show proof that they have received a whooping cough booster shot, known as Tdap, before entering school this fall. Authorities urged parents to make sure their children get the vaccine early in the summer to avoid a rush of vaccinations in August and September.
So far in 2011, there have been 1,102 cases of whooping cough, also known as pertussis, reported to the state. That's a rate of about 8 cases of infection per 100,000 people. The rate is higher than normal, but also shows an improvement from the peak of the epidemic last year, when there were about 23 cases per 100,000 people.
"While it is too early to know if this year will reach the same high levels of this debilitating disease, California is currently experiencing more cases than would be typically expected," Dr. Howard Backer, interim director of the California Department of Public Health, said in a statement.
Whooping cough is a dangerous disease that killed 10 infants in 2010, all of whom were too young to have received the first three doses of the vaccine. Health officials say it is especially important that anyone in contact with a newborn baby is vaccinated, in order to cocoon the infant from the dangerous bacteria.
-- Rong-Gong Lin II
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