ANOKA, Minn. (WCCO) — Sitting at a picnic table on warm August day, Renee Eitel enjoys a simple lunch in the park with her two boys and their friends.

“It’s been a fun summer with these kids,” Eitel said, while munching on lunch.

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With the final few days of summer break winding down, the children will be among the 38,000 students returning to Anoka-Hennepin schools next week. But it’s a district where Pertussis booster, Tdap vaccine, will be as vital as backpacks.

“It’s just that it’s a deep cough that lasts a while, like bronchitis. Kids are sick a while, but I haven’t heard about it recently,” Eitel said.

Unfortunately, Pertussis, which is more commonly referred to as “whooping cough” is making a strong comeback in Minnesota. The state health department says Pertussis is at epidemic levels in several areas across the Twin Cities.

The latest health department figures confirm 2,400 cases across the state, including 634 in Hennepin County, 323 in Anoka County and 156 in Washington County.

“I don’t know how serious it could be, as well,” Eitel said.

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Serious enough that infants are required to get a series of immunizations beginning with shots at four to six months of age. A second shot is given at 15 months followed by a booster at age 4 to 6.

Because of the current outbreak, the health department is now urging all children age 10 and over to get the Tdap booster vaccine. Adults are also being urged to get the updated booster, especially daycare workers and schoolteachers who have frequent contact with children.

“Since I don’t remember it’s been a while so I better be safe than sorry. Doesn’t hurt to get it,” said Dustin Waterhouse.

He just got his Tdap shot in the last week and said it didn’t hurt as badly as he recalled as a kid.

“I don’t want to get her little kids sick or anybody else sick,” Waterhouse said. “I work around the public all the time. God only knows what spreads out there, so I figured why not?”

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Parents attending school open houses in the Anoka-Hennepin district will be getting flyers reminding them of the need to get their kids immunized.