Sonora, CA– In response to record levels of whooping cough in California last year, a new state law was passed.
The legislation was signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger in October 2010 and requires all students entering 7th-12th grades in the fall of 2011 to receive a whooping cough vaccine booster before starting school. Another option for students is to have a Personal Belief Exemption (PBE) signed by a parent or guardian in their school chart.
The Tuolumne County Health Department is reminding parents and guardians that every 7th through 12th grade student in Tuolumne County will be expected to comply with this requirement. The whooping cough booster vaccine that is required for 7th through 12th grade students is called “Tdap.” It can be obtained from most local private clinics, at some pharmacies and for those who qualify, through the Health Department.
According to Tuolumne County Health Officer Todd Stolp, whooping cough, also known as pertussis, usually emerges during the late spring and spreads throughout the summer and beginning of the school year. The cough is often followed by a “whoop” as the victim gasps for air. Whooping cough is a serious illness, especially for infants and young children. The cough may be associated with a fever and can last for over two months. Major complications include pneumonia and seizures.
Last year California had over 9,700 confirmed cases of whooping cough, resulting in 10 infant deaths. In Tuolumne County, between 1994 and 2009, an average of one whooping cough case was reported each year. In 2010, there were 34 cases reported in Tuolumne County.