Whooping cough vaccine

A Los Angeles Unified School District nurse prepares a whooping cough vaccine for a student at Huntington Park High School in 2011. The district has a number of upcoming clinics where students can get vaccinated. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times / July 6, 2011)

Starting middle school comes with a whole host of worries -- going to a new school, picking electives, making friends -- but coming down with whooping cough doesn’t need to be one of them.

For incoming 7th grade students in the Los Angeles Unified School District, proof of a TDaP booster shot is mandatory before school starts Aug. 12. L.A. Unified will host a number clinics, listed below, to help make sure students receive a booster shot free of charge.

The vaccine helps prevent tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Because pertussis is so contagious, students who do not have proof of vaccination will be barred from attending class in accordance with state law.

Children who receive Medi-Cal, are of Native American descent or who don't have insurance are all eligible to participate. A parent or guardian must be present and have a district immunization consent form as well as a current immunization record for each child.

Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a contagious bacterial disease. The California Department of Public Health reports the state is currently experiencing an epidemic since the overall number of incidents has risen from the 1990s.

The illness is characterized by uncontrollable coughs followed by a gasp for air that sounds like a “whoop.” It may be accompanied by a runny nose or fever, and can be fatal for infants if it causes a pause in their breathing, called “apnea.” 

Avoiding people who are infected helps stop the spread, but vaccination is the easiest way to prevent it, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Below, find a district clinic near you. Note that all clinics are closed from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

  • July 28-31, Aug. 1 and Aug. 4-8, at Zelzah Clinic, North Area Nursing Office, 6505 Zelzah Ave., Reseda, from  7:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
  • July 28-31, Aug. 1 and Aug. 4- 8, at Telfair PTA Health Center, 10911 Telfair Ave., Pacoima, from 7:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
  • July 28-31, Aug. 1 and Aug. 4- 8, at Columbus School-Based Clinic & Family Resource Center, 22250 Elkwood St., Canoga Park, from 8 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
  • Aug. 4 - 8, at Murchison Street Elementary School Clinic, 1501 Murchison St., Los Angeles, from 8 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
  • July 29 and 31, Aug. 5 and Aug. 7 at Central PTA Clinic and Student Medical Services, 1000 Venice Blvd., Los Angeles, from 8 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
  •  Aug 4- 8 at Holmes Avenue Elementary School Clinic, 5108 Holmes Ave., Los Angeles, from 8 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
  • July 28-31, Aug. 1 and Aug. 4- 8, Roosevelt Senior High School, 456 S. Matthews Street, Los Angeles, from 7:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.