City Health Officer Encourages Students to Be Current With Pertussis Vaccinations

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With school starting, it is a perfect time to update your children’s immunizations. This year, it is especially important for students to be up to date with their pertussis, or “whooping cough” vaccinations as cases continue to increase throughout California.

“So far this year we’ve identified 157 cases of pertussis in Long Beach, with school-aged children most affected,” said City Health Officer, Dr. Mitchell Kushner. “This is the highest number of cases that the Long Beach Health Department has ever experienced.”

Pertussis, or “whooping cough”, is a respiratory illness that starts with cold-like symptoms (runny nose, watery eyes), but then leads to a severe and long lasting cough, which often comes in spasms. Persons with pertussis can spread the disease by coughing or sneezing while in close contact with others, and, if left untreated, can cause serious illness in infants, children, and adults.

The pertussis vaccine usually protects against infection, but sometimes even immunized children can get pertussis. Because immunity wears off over time, booster doses are needed throughout life. In California, children entering the 7th grade are required to have Tdap before returning to school. Pertussis boosters are also recommended for adults, especially pregnant women in their third trimester of each pregnancy. For a schedule of recommended immunizations from birth through adulthood, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website at

Residents are encouraged to contact their regular healthcare provider for vaccines. Many insurance plans will cover immunizations at no cost to the patient. Those without health insurance or immunization coverage can call the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services Immunization Clinic at 562.570.4316 or Los Angeles County’s Information Line at 2-1-1 for information on low cost vaccinations. Additional information on pertussis, vaccines, and other services provided by the Health Department is available at Remember, prevention is key in preparing your children for a successful school year.

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