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Keep Away the Cough:

2011 Immunization Requirements

Pertussis, also known as Whooping Cough, had a big year in 2010. The highly contagious respiratory tract infection caused an epidemic in California last year with the most cases reported since 1947. Unfortunately, the infection took the lives of ten infants and required hundreds of California residents to be hospitalized. The best method for protection against the infection is vaccination, and after the overwhelming effects of pertussis in 2010, new immunization requirements have been created.

Assembly Bill 354, created on September 29th, 2010, has changed the 2011 immunization requirements for students. While most children receive a pertussis vaccination as part of their DTaP vaccine (immunity against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) within their first year of life, vaccinations lose their strength over time. This is why booster vaccines are administered: they essentially boost your immunization to certain diseases. The booster created to increase immunity for pertussis is the Tdap vaccine. It includes increased immunity against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, and is safe for older children, adolescents, and adults.

It is important for parents to know that beginning on July 1, 2011, all students entering 7th through 12th grades will need proof that they have received their Tdap booster before they can start school. In addition, beginning in 2012, all students entering the 7th grade must have proof they have received their Tdap, and this will be an annual requirement for incoming 7th graders. The California Department of Public Health recommends that children receive the Tdap on or after their 10th birthday for the best protection against pertussis.

The implementation of the new adolescent immunization requirements creates the opportunity for parents to make sure their children and adolescents are up-to-date with other important vaccinations. These immunizations include the meningococcal vaccine for protection against meningitis and the HPV vaccine series for protection against the Genital human papillomavirus, the most common sexually transmitted disease. For more information on immunization requirements, consult your child's Health care provider or call the Kern County Public Health Services Department at 661-321-3000.

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Tags: Health

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