Booster Shots Urged for Pertussis

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently signed a law that makes a pertussis booster (tetanus/diphtheria/acellular pertussis, or TDaP) mandatory for all students in grades seven to 12 starting next year.

Health officials, however, urge middle and high school parents not to wait until the law takes effect.

The new law comes in response to a pertussis outbreak that started in California last spring.  The statewide increase includes three confirmed cases and several suspected cases in local schools.

TDaP is required before children enter elementary school, but the protection decreases over time.  A TDaP booster is recommended for adults and children 10 and older.

Pertussis, known as whooping cough, is spread by coughing or sneezing.  It causes a severe, long-lasting cough in adolescents and adults.  Complications are rare in this age group, but are more common in infants who become infected before they are vaccinated.  Nine deaths due to pertussis have been reported in the state this year, all in infants less than three months old.

TDaP is available through local healthcare providers and at the Long Beach Health Department.  Appointments at the Health Department may be made at 570-4315.

For more information, call 570-4212 or visit www.longbeach.gov/health.