LOS ANGELES, Calif.–Los Angeles County health officials today began a multimedia public education effort aimed at urging parents to get their children–and everyone in the family–vaccinated.

“Vaccines save thousands of lives each year and are the best way to protect your children and the community against serious diseases such as influenza, measles, polio, and whooping cough,” county health director Dr. Jonathan Fielding said. “Choosing not to vaccinate your children can have serious consequences.”

“Los Angeles County is currently experiencing the worst epidemic of whooping cough in 60 years, with more than 870 cases last year alone,” he said. “We encourage everyone to talk to their doctor about the right vaccines for their children and themselves.”

To help encourage parents to have their children immunized, the county began an advertising and information campaign called “Stay Healthy. Vaccinate.” The effort includes print, television and radio ads, Facebook and YouTube content and a website at www.vaccinateLA.com.

County officials noted that beginning July 1, all students in grades even through 12 must show proof that they have received a pertussis booster (Tdap) shot.

“Avoid the back-to-school rush, and make sure your children are protected right away,” Fielding said.