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Whooping cough Q&A: Where can I get immunized against pertussis?

October 27, 2010 |  1:51 pm

With more than 6,000 people infected and the state death toll from whooping cough at 10 babies, readers have asked the Los Angeles Times where they can get vaccinated against the disease, also known as pertussis.

Whooping-cough immunizations can be had at doctors' offices and local pharmacies. A random check of five pharmacies in the Los Angeles area found that the shot for adults -- Tdap, which protects against tetanus and diphtheria as well as pertussis -- costs about $60 or $65. But not all of them had the immunizations on hand. So call the pharmacy first to check.

Some pharmacies take insurance, but check with your insurance company to determine whether vaccines are covered by your plan and whether they will be covered at a pharmacy.

For senior citizens, some doctors' offices and pharmacies are erroneously giving outdated information  that seniors cannot be inoculated. You can print out a correct statement by the California Department of Public Health that recommends that seniors get the Tdap shot. Or contact your local county or city public health department, listed below.

For seniors, Medicare covers Tdap inoculation as a "Part D" drug and you can get one at an in-network pharmacy or an in-network doctor's office. Some doctors and insurance companies have been giving wrong information about whether Medicare covers Tdap for seniors. Show them the statement by Medicare confirming the coverage.

If you don’t have insurance or cannot afford the vaccine, local county and city health departments sometimes offer free or discounted vaccines. A list of resources is available below.

California health officials now recommend the Tdap inoculation for everyone 7 years and older, including the elderly, who are not fully immunized, and especially pregnant women and anyone who will have contact with them and their babies. Newborns are at highest risk of dying from whooping cough.

Los Angeles County: Free or low-cost vaccinations can be found in Los Angeles County by dialing 211 or (800) 427-8700, or go to the Department of Public Health’s immunization clinic referral website

Long Beach: The Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services accepts appointments at (562) 570-4315. General information about whooping cough can be found at (562) 570-4212.

Pasadena: The Pasadena Public Health Department runs immunization clinics for adults. The city charges $50 for a Tdap shot for adults. For more information, call (626) 744-6121.

Orange County: The Orange County Health Care Agency offers the vaccine free of charge to those whose physicians don’t have the vaccine, whose insurance plan doesn’t cover the shot, or to the uninsured. Call (800) 564-8448 for more information. The shots are available at the immunization clinic at 1725 West 17th Street in Santa Ana, which is open Monday through Friday.

Riverside County: Public health clinics in Riverside County offer the inoculation, and more information can be found by calling (800) 720-9553.

San Bernardino County: A $10 fee is charged for the pertussis vaccine at San Bernardino County-run clinics. Appointments can be made by calling (800) 722-4777.

San Diego County: A $10 fee is also charged per clinic visit in San Diego County public health centers, and people who can’t afford the fee can sign a waiver.

Ventura County: Call (805) 981-5221 in Ventura County to schedule appointments for low-cost vaccines at county clinics.

-- Rong-Gong Lin II


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Whooping cough immunization information