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Friday, July 29, 2011

Sergio Romo, Giants Pitcher, Helps Kids Kick Whooping Cough

Posted By on Fri, Jul 29, 2011 at 3:20 PM

Whoop Whoop!
  • Whoop Whoop!

Apparently the tried-and-true forms of medical bribery -- a lollipop or a Winnie the Pooh Band-Aid -- just aren't cutting it anymore.

But you know kids, these days -- they have such high expectations. Which is why the city has recruited Giants pitcher Sergio Romo to rub elbows with five to 10 students who go to the Department of Public Health on Tuesday, Aug. 2, for their whooping cough vaccinations.

Whooping cough cases -- called pertussis -- in California have dramatically increased in the last couple of years, prompting a new state law that requires all seventh through twelfth graders to get the vaccination. Governor Jerry Brown recently pushed the deadline back an extra 30 days until September 15. In March, which was the last time San Francisco Unified School District counted, only 22 percent of students had filed documents proving they were free and clear of the cough, according to Heidi Anderson, public relations coordinator for the school district.

Anderson said the district and the Department of Public Health have been doing tons of outreach to help families meet the deadline. On August 6, for example, the department will be offering free vaccinations at the French American International School to all seventh through twelfth graders.

Students who don't get their shot in time could be kicked out of school.

Of course, this could be an incentive not to get the shot, which is why it's probably a good thing the city is bribing them with a Giants superstar. "Adding a celebrity to an event helps increase the awareness," Anderson said.

According to the Department of Public Health, 9,394 cases of whooping cough, 804 hospitalizations, and 10 deaths were reported in California in 2010. Anderson said she knew of two cases within the school district.

Seventh through twelfth graders, who can usually survive the violent, uncontrollable cough attacks, are given the shot so that people who are too young or too old to be inoculated don't catch the bug. For them, it can be deadly.

The Department of Public Health, the San Francisco Immunization Coalition, the California Department of Education, and the Giants are hosting the event from 11 a.m. to noon. The agenda also calls for testimonials from two San Francisco teen survivors of the whooping cough.

But hey, at least Romo will be there. Can we get a "whoop-whoop"?

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Taylor Friedman


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