Whooping cough, or Pertussis, is a highly contagious disease that can last for months and causes violent, uncontrollable coughing, and often makes breathing very difficult. Though it can affect people of all ages, in infants, whooping cough can cause permanent disability, or even death, according to the Center for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov/features/pertussis/).
Incidences of whooping cough have been on the rise in recent years, especially in California, where the illness was responsible for the deaths of 10 infants.
To address this serious public health threat, AB 354—signed into law in September 2010—requires all children entering or continuing to 7th-12th grade in the 2011-12 school year to provide proof that they received the Tdap booster shot before they will be allowed to start school.
After the 2011-12 school year, only students entering 7th grade will need proof of an adolescent whooping cough booster shot before beginning school.
The Tdap booster not only protects against whooping cough, but also against Tetanus (causes muscle tightening and lockjaw) and Diphteria (a throat infection that can lead to breathing problems), as well.
If your child has not had this vaccine already, contact your doctor as soon as possible, as a large number of students will need a Tdap shot. For more information about the new vaccine requirement, visit www.shotsforschool.org or the California Department of Education’s website, www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/hn/pertussis.asp.
The Vaccines for Children Program (VFC) offers free or low cost vaccines for eligible patients 18 years and younger. If your child/student is eligible for Medi-Cal, you can find a VFC provider near you by visiting http://shotsforschool.org/parentinfo. html or calling 1-877-243-8832. If you are uninsured or if your insurance does not cover vaccinations, you can find a list of federally qualified health centers in their area at www.oshpd.ca.gov/RHPC/Clinics/FQHCS.html. You can also get immunizations at some county health departments or local pharmacies. To find your local health department by county, visit www.cdph.ca.gov.
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) into law in March of 2010. The PPACA reforms aspects of private and public health insurance programs in the United States in order to expand access to health care insurance for more than 30 million Americans. The law will implement reforms over the next few years (until 2014) to make health insurance more affordable for all Americans, and more importantly those who are considered low-income individuals.
To get more information about how the PPACA affects you, visit www.healthcare.gov. This website is dedicated to providing information to you related to the PPACA, and can help you find health care insurance options.