Responding to a spike in outbreaks, Southland residents and parents across the state were being urged by public health officials today 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 (CDPH), 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. More than 3,180 cases had been reported in that state this year, 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.
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.