In some of the Los Angeles neighborhoods with a reputation for being health and fitness conscious, a scary but preventable disease has begun affecting young children at abnormally high rates. The disease, pertussis, also known as whooping cough, used to kill thousands of children and infants each year in the first half of the twentieth century but was considered nearly eradicated in the U.S. until recently, when cases of whooping cough swept over elementary schools from Malibu and Beverly Hills to Marina del Rey. The cause: parents failing to vaccinate young children against the life-threatening disease.
According to a recent investigation, in some Westside schools, as many as 60 to 70 percent of parents have turned in paperwork indicating their abstention from vaccinating their children, a self-imposed exemption allowed by law. These schools have a vaccination rate that dips as low as the levels in...
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