With county schools back in session, parents should make sure their children are properly immunized against pertussis, as whooping cough cases have continued to increase in San Diego County, including 14 new cases where other children may have been exposed, according to County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA).

None of the new cases were in the Poway Unified School District area. There have been 554 confirmed cases of pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, reported in 2010. There were 143 cases in all of 2009 and the previous high for the county was 371 cases in 2005.

“Parents need to make sure their children are immunized and make sure they are also getting the necessary booster shots,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer. “We recommend that people with medical coverage go to their private provider to obtain their immunizations and people with no primary care physician can go to HHSA’s Public Health Centers. We also continue to offer weekend vaccination clinics at six Northgate Markets locations and the San Ysidro port of entry.”

The Northgate Markets clinics will be held on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The clinic at the San Ysidro Port of Entry will be held on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The clinics are scheduled to continue on weekends until Sept. 26, based on vaccine availability.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children get one dose of DTaP vaccine at the following ages: 2 months; 4 months; 6 months; 15 to 18 months and 4 to 6 years.

The CDC also recommends that children receive a booster shot of Tdap vaccine at 10-11 yrs. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recommends an adolescent-adult pertussis booster vaccine (Tdap) for everyone 10 years or older who has not yet received it, especially women of childbearing age, before, during, or immediately after pregnancy; and other people, including household contacts, caregivers, and health care workers, who have contact with pregnant women or infants.

Children 7-9 years of age who did not receive all of their routine childhood shots are recommended to receive a Tdap booster dose.
A typical case of pertussis in children and adults 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, please call the HHSA Immunization Branch toll-free at (866) 358-2966, or visit the web site at www.sdiz.org.