Whooping Cough Epidemic Prompts Possible Crackdown on Unvaccinated Kids

So far this year, whooping cough has killed five babies in California. Although none of those were San Francisco children, cases of whooping cough in this city have increased sixfold -- and now the San Francisco Department of Public Health is considering a crackdown on children who are not vaccinated. 

This year, according to a Department of Public Health director's report (a monthly update on health issues in the city), unvaccinated children may be forbidden from attending schools and classes where whooping cough -- more formally known as pertussis -- has become an issue.

Last year, unvaccinated children were not restricted from attending schools or classrooms where whooping cough was going around, according to the the report. But because many of the city's cases of whooping cough have been associated with schools and classrooms with low immunization rates, that could change.

"Depending on the situation and at the discretion of the on-call physician and disease control team, we may choose to set up restrictions for schools and day care facilities during this upcoming school year," the report explains.

Letters announcing the possible policy shift are in the works and will soon be distributed to parents in the district and posted on the SFDPH's website.

Three days ago, Dr. Susan Fernyak, director of communicable disease control and prevention at the SFDPH answered a few commonly asked questions in the San Francisco Chronicle. But if you've got more questions about how vaccinating your children could save the lives of babies, contact the SFDPH.

Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly and @AshleyHarrell3 

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