Western Iowa public health officials say there’s been a spike in the number of whooping cough cases in the Council Bluffs area and they’re urging parents to have their kids vaccinated if they’re old enough to get a shot. Tanya French is a nurse who works in the Council Bluffs Department of Public Health.

“We are hoping that everybody gets treated that comes in contact with someone who is a confirmed case and also talking to their providers about getting the vaccination if they’re eligible and that vaccine is for 10 years of age through 64 years of age,” French says. “So we’re strongly encouraging anyone in that age bracket to get the vaccine.” There have been five confirmed cases of whooping cough in Council Bluffs elementary schools.

“Usually, you know, in the fall when kids are starting to get back together in close quarters, we do see it,” French says. People who have whooping cough are contagious for 21 days. French says a person may feel fine between coughing fits, but the coughing may be extremely violent.

The State of Iowa requires whooping cough vaccinations for kids starting kindergarten, but the nurse says the next booster shot cannot be given until a child reaches the age of 10.

Council Bluffs school officials sent notes home with 2,000 middle school and high school students, advising their parents free vaccinations clinics were available in the district.