Health officials are urging parents to get their children caught up on vaccines before students head back to school this year as the whooping cough epidemic approaches its peak in California.

State health officials say more than 3,000 cases of the illness have been confirmed as of Aug. 17 in California, a seven-fold increase from the number of cases reported in the same period last year.

This year, seven babies have died of whooping cough, also known as pertussis.

State department of public health spokesman Ken August says children who aren’t vaccinated may be required to stay home under the authority of county health departments, in the event of an outbreak.


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