Pertussis Reported in Two Local Schools

Students are not the only ones back in school. Pertussis, or whooping cough, appears to be back with them.


The County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) is reporting two additional cases of whooping cough: an 8-year-old at Mission Elementary School in the Oceanside Unified School District and a 13-year-old at Patrick Henry High School in the San Diego Unified School District. Both students were up-to-date with the pertussis vaccine.

The new whooping cough cases bring San Diego’s total to 96 so far this year. A total of 400 pertussis cases were reported in 2011.

“While it is possible to still get pertussis after being vaccinated, the symptoms are much less severe,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., public health officer for the County. “Parents should make sure their children have received all the recommended doses of the whooping cough vaccine to keep them healthy.” 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children get doses of DTaP vaccine at the following ages: 2 months; 4 months; 6 months; 15 to 18 months; and 4 to 6 years. Health officials also recommend that preteens and adults get a Tdap booster. The ultimate goal is to prevent deaths that can result as a complication of pertussis. Infants under one year old are especially vulnerable.

Parents can obtain the vaccine series and the Tdap booster shot for themselves and their children through their primary care physicians. Local retail pharmacies offer vaccinations for a fee, and anyone who is not covered by a medical insurance plan can get the shot from a County Public Health Center at no cost.

A typical case of pertussis starts with a cough and runny nose for one to two weeks, followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits that sometimes end with a whooping sound. Fever, if present, is usually mild. The disease is treatable with antibiotics.

For more information about whooping cough and ongoing vaccination clinics, call the HHSA Immunization Branch at (866) 358-2966, or visit

José A. Álvarez is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact