Bill Could Gain Support as Whooping Cough Cases Break Records
A record high number of cases of whooping cough, or pertussis, in California might prompt increased support for a bill (AB 354), by Assembly Member Juan Arambula (I-Fresno), that would allow schools to require whooping cough immunizations for incoming seventh-graders, the Fresno Bee reports.
As of mid-July, California had reported about 1,500 cases of whooping cough for 2010, which is about five times the number of cases reported last year.
Since 2006, the booster shot for pertussis has been recommended for children ages 11 and 12, but California is one of 11 states that does not require theÂ booster shot.
Three years ago, a similar measure by Arambula failed in the Legislature because of concerns about the costs associated with immunizing adolescents from low-income families.
According to Arambula, immunizing children against whooping cough actually could help reduce state spending. A Department of Public Health cost analysis requested by Arambula estimates that immunizing students would add about $254,746 to state costs for Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program.
In comparison, state hospital discharge data suggests that costs associated with pertussis in 2005 were $17 million, including at least $12 million for Medi-Cal beneficiaries.
AB 354 has passed the Assembly and is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee before going for a vote on the Senate floor (Anderson, Fresno Bee, 7/23).
EditorialToo few children have been immunized against whooping cough to adequately prevent the spread of the disease, a Redding Record Searchlight editorial states. It concludes, "Parents who have a deep personal objection to vaccines are welcome to their beliefs, but they'd do everyone else a favor if they gave a second thought to the risks and consequences -- for their own families and every other child" (Redding Record Searchlight, 7/25). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.