[El Centro/Imperial County] –  The Imperial County Public Health Department reminded the community of the California Department of Public Health’s requirement that beginning July 1, 2011, all students entering grades 7-12 must provide proof of having immunization against whooping cough (‘Tdap’) before starting school. In light of California’s recent whooping cough (also known as pertussis) epidemic, there is no reason to wait for the new school year.

“It’s important that incoming 7th-12th graders see their doctor and get immunized,” said Dr. Stephen Munday, local Health Officer.  “Getting Tdap now will not only meet the new school requirement, but it will also protect our children from the threat of pertussis.”

This new school requirement applies to all public and private schools. California’s parents are being urged not to wait for the new fall school year, since there will be no grace period.  Under the new law, students will need to be vaccinated before they start school.

This week, the Imperial County Public Health Department is joining other counties in California in observance of Preteen Vaccine Week.  Activities in Imperial County will include a Scavenger Hunt hosted by the Imperial County Immunization Coalition. The Scavenger Hunt will take place at the Imperial Valley Mall on Saturday, February 19th from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. This activity is open to 11 and 12 year olds. Those interested in participating may contact Sonia Contreras at (760) 482-4949.

In addition to Tdap, there are several important vaccines recommended for preteens and teens including the meningococcal vaccine, a second chickenpox shot (if they never had chickenpox disease), and the HPV vaccine series. Everyone older than 6 months old is also recommended to receive a seasonal flu vaccine.

If a child’ family does not have health insurance, or a child is only partially insured, his/her doctor or the local public health department can provide information about the Vaccines for

<<Whooping Cough RequirementNR_02_16_11.pdf>> Children (VFC) Program which provides vaccines at no or low-cost.

For more information, please visit http://www.shotsforschool.org/.  For information on vaccine availability in Imperial County, please call the Imperial County Public Health Department (760) 482-4906.

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