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California and Blackboard Notify Parents About Whooping Cough Epidemic

The California Department of Public Health is using Blackboard Connect to make available a broadcast message about the pertussis epidemic and the need for vaccination in the state. As of Oct. 20, 2010, 10 reported infant deaths had been attributed to the disease, which is more commonly known as whooping cough. The outbreak, which has struck nearly 6,000 people since the beginning of the year, is owing to a high propensity of California parents not vaccinating their children, according to the department.

Blackboard is making a pre-recorded message from Department of Public Health Director Mark Horton free to all K-12 schools and districts, colleges, and universities, as well as local governments. The message can be adapted to provide local information about vaccination clinics. However, since Oct. 5, only 23 schools or districts in California have sent the pertussis message, according to Blackboard. That equates to about 730,000 contacts out of a state population that is about 37 million people.

The message, which can be sent in voice and text form, emphasizes the importance of children and adults getting vaccinated. "Don't let this preventable disease strike you or your family," says Horton in the message. "Make sure children are caught up on their pertussis immunizations. Children seven to nine years of age who did not complete their childhood vaccination series need to get a pertussis booster. And everyone age 10 and older should get a booster vaccine to protect against pertussis."

This isn't the first time Blackboard has worked with the state on a public health campaign. During the spring, the vendor and the agency used the Blackboard Connect platform to send voice, text, and e-mail messages from Horton about the importance of getting a flu shot to prevent swine flu, also known as H1N1.

Further information can be found here.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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