California students have another urgent item on their to-do list: get a whooping cough booster. A new state law requires all middle and high school students to get the booster—called Tdap —before setting foot in a classroom this fall.
Hi, I'm Dr. William Walker, County Health Officer and Director of Contra Costa Health Services. I urge you to have your teen vaccinated now. Don't wait until just before school starts, when clinics will be packed with other students.
The new law affects all students entering grades seven through 12, including those in public and private schools.
Last year our state saw its worst outbreak of whooping cough in more than 50 years. Thousands of people fell ill. The unfortunate victims of this disease were our youngest. Ten babies died in California in 2010 from this preventable disease. Cases in Contra Costa jumped from just under 20 in 2009 to more than 200 last year.
Most people receive a series of shots as children to build immunity against whooping cough. Many students in grades seven through 12 had their last dose of whooping cough vaccine many years ago, when they entered kindergarten. Immunity for whooping cough slowly wears off over time and a lot of folks haven't received a recent booster.
Now we'll be rebuilding that immunity with the requirement of a booster: No shots, no school. A large number of students need to get the Tdap booster before the start of school. We expect a flood of students in the weeks before school opens, so I urge you to get this protection early. Make an appointment today and hold on to your records to meet school requirements. It would also be a great time for other family members to get a Tdap booster.
If you do not have a regular health provider or do not have insurance, the vaccine is available in other locations, too, like your local grocery store or pharmacy. Our Public Health Immunization Clinics also offer Tdap. Check www.cchealth.org for times and locations.
Thanks for listening.