RIVERSIDE (CBS) — Riverside County public health officials are reminding parents to get their children vaccinated against whooping cough over the summer break.

A new law taking effect July 1 will require all students in grades seven through 12 to have proof of vaccination for whooping cough. Those who have not received the Tdap shot will be prohibited from returning to school.

“With the school year coming to a close, it’s a great time to remind parents and guardians about the new rule,” county Health Officer Eric Frykman said. “This way, parents can be prepared for the new school year.”

Whooping cough cases in California hit a 63-year high last year with roughly 9,100 people requiring treatment. There were 10 deaths, all but one of them, infants. Dozens of cases were reported in Riverside County.

Pertussis, which is highly contagious, usually starts with flu-like symptoms, such as runny nose, sneezing, fever and mild cough. The symptoms may be mild and brief or last up to two weeks, but are often followed by severe coughing spasms that may be associated with vomiting.

The county’s Department of Public Health reports that young children are the most vulnerable.

Vaccinations are available from private physicians or at any of the county’s 10 Family Care Centers. More information is available at the California Department of Public Health Web site.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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