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Pertussis - Whooping Cough

Tdap Requirement: Frequently asked questions

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Tdap Requirement and Documentation

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Pertussis Letter to Parent

To: Parents & Guardians
From: Alameda County Public Health Dept, Alameda County Office of Education
Re: Pertussis (Whooping Cough)


There has been a dramatic increase in whooping cough (pertussis) infections, particularly among infants and young children in California and the Bay Area. This increase has lead Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD) officials to increase awareness and remind residents to get a whooping cough vaccination.


Whooping cough is a very contagious illness spread by coughing and sneezing. It can be deadly in young infants. The symptoms of whooping cough are different depending on your age. Infants and children may have a runny nose and a pause in their breathing, but little cough. Some infants may have coughing ‘fits’ that lead to a whooping sound. In adolescents and adults, symptoms may start like a common cold with a cough that lasts for weeks or months. Fever is rare.  Vaccination is the best defense against whooping cough. Parents need to be very proactive in making sure that they and their children have up-to-date vaccinations.

  • The most vulnerable populations are infants and children who have not been fully immunized.
  • The best protection for children is to be vaccinated.
  • Those in close contact with children should also be fully immunized, including pregnant women, infant caregivers, and household contacts of newborns.

Seven California infants (all younger than three months of age) have died from whooping cough so far in 2010. As of August 3, 104 cases of whooping cough were confirmed with another 42 cases under investigation. In 2009, there were 26 cases total. According to the California Department of Public Health, the state is on pace to have the highest rate of disease in 47 years.
Public health officials expect whooping cough cases to increase as the school year begins. All women of childbearing age should get a booster shot to prevent spreading whooping cough to newborns and infants. Babies and young children should be fully immunized for Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis (DTaP) by age 6. For everyone 7 years or older there is a whooping cough booster shot (Tdap).  If your younger children have not received the full DTaP vaccination series, or your older children
need a Tdap booster shot, please see your medical provider. If you do not have medical coverage,  attend one of the free back-to-school clinics (visit www.acphd.org) or call Alameda County Public Health Clearinghouse toll free at (888) 604-4636 for a doctor or medical plan referral.

Get more information here:

Pertussis Immunization Requirement for Students in Grades Seven Through Twelve

Assembly Bill 354 was signed into law in September 2010. As a result, students entering or advancing to grades seven through twelve in the 2011–12 school year are required to be immunized with a pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine booster called Tetanus Toxoid, Reduced Diphtheria Toxoid and Acellular Pertussis (Tdap). The new requirement goes into effect July 1, 2011, for one year and affects all students—current, new, and transfers—in public and private schools. The law changes for the 2012–13 school year and beyond. On July 1, 2012, AB 354 will require only students who are entering or advancing into grade seven to be immunized with Tdap.

Pertussis is a very infectious disease that can be debilitating at any age and lethal to infants. As of January 7, 2011, there were more than 8,300 cases of pertussis with onset in 2010 reported statewide to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH)—the most reported since 1947. As early childhood immunization does not provide lasting immunity to pertussis, CDPH recommends a Tdap booster immunization for all persons ten years of age and older, yet most people have not received the Tdap booster. As a result, many older students and adults remain susceptible to pertussis, risking their health and the health of their communities. At least 10 infants too young to be immunized have died from pertussis in 2010 in California.

Immunization with Tdap can protect students who have not yet been immunized against the ongoing risk of pertussis and meets the forthcoming requirement for the 2011–12 school year. Please communicate this important information about the risk of pertussis and the new requirement to parents, school nurses, clerks, and other school officials assisting with health records.

The California Department of Education (CDE) and CDPH are working closely together to develop tools and resources for schools to assist in communication, documentation, and reporting procedures, which will be available by early 2011.

Please ensure that all principals under your authority who are responsible for students in grades six through twelve are apprised of this new immunization requirement.

If you have any questions regarding this subject, please contact Dr. Eileen Yamada, Public Health Medical Officer, CDPH Immunization Branch, by phone at 510-620-3737 or by e-mail at TdapLaw@cdph.ca.gov, or Linda Davis-Alldritt, School Nurse Consultant, CDE Coordinated School Health and Safety Office, by phone at
916-319-0284  or by e-mail at ldavisal@cde.ca.gov. You can also visit the CDE Health Services & School Nursing Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/hn/ or the CDPH Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Web page at http://www.cdph.ca.gov/HealthInfo/discond/Pages/Pertussis.aspx (Outside Source) for specific information.

Sincerely,

Tom Torlakson
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
California Department of Education

Mark B Horton, MD, MSPH
Director
California Department of Public Health

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