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New law to help prevent whooping cough deaths

Health officials hope a new law will help prevent further deaths of infants who can't be fully immunized against whooping cough until they're 6 months old.
December 29, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
California health officials predict more than 8,000 confirmed whooping cough cases before the end of the year. It's the most the state has seen in 63 years.Now, they hope a new law will prevent any future outbreaks.

Starting in August, all 7th to 12th graders will have to prove they are up to date on their pertussis vaccinations before they can start school. The goal is to prevent further deaths of infants who can't be fully immunized until they're 6 months old.

"If they get infected it's usually because they've had contact with a caregiver, someone in their family who's already had it. So we want to try to create a cocooning effect by getting anybody who's around a small infant immunized," said one health official.

Of the 7,800 reported cases of whooping cough in California, 10 were fatal - all were infants under three months.

The state Department of Public Health advises anyone who has contact with an infant, even the elderly, to make sure they've been vaccinated against whooping cough.


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