August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) is encouraging parents to speak with healthcare providers about required vaccinations, including whopping cough, also known as pertussis.
According to representatives for DPH, it is especially important for students to receive a pertussis vaccination this year, as cases continue to increase throughout California. Student-required immunizations help prevent against the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases.
“California is experiencing an epidemic of pertussis. So far this year in L.A. County, we have nearly doubled the number of pertussis cases that we had for all of 2013,” DPH director of public health Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding said.
“Pertussis is a highly contagious illness that can be prevented through immunization. It is especially dangerous for babies. Pregnant women and those who care for or live at home with a newborn or infant can help protect those too young to be vaccinated by getting the vaccine themselves.”
Pertussis is a respiratory disease that can cause severe, uncontrollable fits of coughing that make it hard to breathe. As of Aug. 4, a total of 516 confirmed and probable cases among children and adults have been reported in L.A. County, excluding the cities of Pasadena and Long Beach.
The number of pertussis cases this year is expected to exceed the numbers during the 2010 epidemic, which caused the death of four infants in the county and resulted in more than 970 cases of pertussis. All residents are encouraged to check their immunization record or ask their health care provider if they are up to date with their pertussis vaccines. The vaccine is particularly recommended for infants, young children, preteens, and adults, including pregnant women.
California law also requires new students and those heading back to school to have a proof of pertussis vaccine, among other immunizations.
For information, visit www.cdph.ca.gov.
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