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Pertussis Immunizations Protect Infants

June 1, 2012 (San Diego) -- Four new cases of whooping cough were reported at local schools boosting the region’s total to 42 cases for the year so far, County Health and Human Services Agency officials reported yesterday.

In all four cases, the children were up-to-date on pertussis immunizations. This week’s new pertussis cases are:
  • A 5-month-old who was up-to-date on immunizations and attends Charley Brown Children’s Center preschool in La Mesa.
  • A 4-year-old who was up-to-date on immunizations and attends Del Dios Head Start in Escondido.
  • A 6-year-old who was up-to-date on immunizations and attends Juniper Elementary School in the Escondido Union School District
  • A 14-year-old who was up-to-date on immunizations and attends DePortola Middle School in the San Diego Unified School District.
“Vaccinations against pertussis help prevent the spread of this highly contagious disease,” said Eric McDonald, M.D., M.P.H., Deputy Public Health Officer. “Vaccinated children and adults who still contract pertussis generally have milder cases of the disease than those who are unvaccinated. So, it is very important that everyone get the vaccinations at the recommended times.”

The ultimate goal is to prevent deaths which can result as a complication of pertussis, and infants under one year of age are especially vulnerable. In 2010, there were 10 pertussis infant deaths in the state, including two in San Diego. No pertussis infant deaths were reported last year.  A record 1,144 cases were reported in the county in 2010, and 436 were reported in 2011.

Parents can obtain the vaccine series and the Tdap booster shot for themselves and their children through their primary care physicians. Local retail pharmacies offer vaccinations for a fee, and anyone who is not covered by a medical insurance plan can get the shot from a County Public Health Center at no cost.

A typical case of pertussis 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 and ongoing vaccination clinics, call the HHSA Immunization Branch at (866) 358-2966, or visit 

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