ALHAMBRA – Assemblyman Mike Eng, D-Alhambra, emphatically led a small crowd Tuesday in a chorus that he said summarized his message of whooping cough prevention awareness.
“No shot, no school. No money, no problem. No English, no problem. No provider, no problem,” Eng and the crowd of about 20 repeated several times in his Alhambra headquarters where the conference was held.
Eng and other speakers from the local school and medical community were on hand to alert the community of a new state policy that requires all students to show proof of receiving a whooping cough vaccine before returning to school in the fall.
“Any student that fails to show proof of immunization runs the risk of being turned away from school,” Eng said.
A state law took effect July1 requiring students in seventh through 12 grades, in both public and private schools, to show proof they have received a whooping cough booster shot – or Tdap – before entering school in the 2011-12 school year.
Eng stressed the importance of reaching out to the community in staving off a whooping cough epidemic. He said outreach on the issue, especially to Asian and other immigrant communities, could save lives.
According to the California Department of Public Health, there have been 2,774 reported cases of whooping cough as of August 2010. That represents a 700 percent increase from the 395 cases reported in 2009.
Dr. Michell Parra, who directs L.A. County’s
immunization program, said there are several free options for vaccination. Tdap boosters are normally $30 or $40 from a private physician if not covered by insurance.
A list of qualified federal health providers who provide free shots can be found at www.oshpd.ca.gov, she noted. Several providers are in the San Gabriel area including 13 in Monterey Park, 35 in the El Monte and South El Monte area and 11 in Alhambra.
The Chinatown Service Center also provides free shots to qualified families, noted Larry J. Lue, the center’s CEO.
“Our goal is to make it available as possible,” he said. “That’s why this bill is important in getting the process started.”
According to Eng, non-English speaking communities face various barriers in getting proper medical treatment. “Take the Asian community where you have 30 or 40 different languages, and you see one of the biggest challenges. That’s why it’s important to go into the communities.”
This is especially prevalent in growing immigrant populations, Lue said. He noted that language barriers foster trust and misinformation issues.
“There is a lot of confusion and fear which leads to complications and confidence issues,” he added. “It’s especially problematic at the school level, where parents cannot access school officials who speak their language.”
According to Lue, organizations like his are the gateway for many immigrant communities.
“That is why we must go out into the communities and earn their trust,” he said. “They count on us to provide information and separate what is proper from what is not.”
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