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5 reasons your teenager should get the whooping cough vaccine

Beginning this week, LA Unified is offering vaccination clinics.
Beginning this week, LA Unified is offering vaccination clinics.
Shereen Meraji/KPCC

Believe it or not, LA Unified students go back to school in just two weeks. That means it's time to finish up any summer reading, to pull out the backpacks and other school gear and... to get vaccinated.

Below are five reasons teenagers should get vaccinated against whooping cough:

  1. It's the law! In California, all students entering 7th grade need proof of the whooping cough booster shot known as Tdap (which also protects against tetanus and diphtheria). Without it, they'll be barred from attending class. 
  2. The state is in the throes of a whooping cough epidemic. More than half the 6,170 cases reported so far this year have been among children and teens, ages 7 to 16, according to the California Department of Public Health. 
  3. The immunity conferred from childhood immunizations – or from the whooping cough itself – wears off in several years. That leaves older students susceptible to the highly-contagious respiratory disease. 
  4. Infected teenagers can expose younger family members to the disease, also known as "pertussis."  Infants too young to be vaccinated are most likely to suffer from severe and fatal forms of whooping cough.
  5. Your child may qualify for free vaccinations. Beginning today, the Los Angeles Unified School District is making it easy for uninsured children, kids on Medi-Cal and those of Native American descent to get vaccinated against the disease by offering them free vaccinations at clinics throughout the city. 

Do you have questions about the whooping cough vaccine? Tell us about it in the comments section below, or e-mail us at Your experience could inform future reporting.