State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson this week is urging parents of students entering the seventh grade to vaccinate their children to protect them against whooping cough as required by California law.
“I call on all parents to act as soon as possible and ensure their children receive this important vaccination,” Torlakson said in a statement.
“Taking a few minutes now will help protect your child’s health, and help them get off to a smooth start in the next school year,” he said.
According to Dr. Ron Chapman, Director of the California Department of Public Health, in 2010, 9,000 Californians were diagnosed with pertussis and 10 infants died from the disease.
“Due to the collective statewide vaccination efforts this past year, pertussis cases are dramatically lower in California,” Chapman said in a statement. “If your child has not yet been vaccinated, please do so immediately.”
Assembly Bill 354, which was signed into law in September 2010, required all students entering or advancing to grades seven through twelve in the 2011–12 school year to show proof of immunization with a whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine booster called tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap).
The new requirement affects all students—current, new, and transfers—in public and private schools.
For the 2012-13 school year and future years, the pertussis booster immunization requirement applies to students entering or advancing into the seventh grade.
If they haven’t done so already, current sixth graders should receive a pertussis booster shot as soon as possible to protect themselves. Unlike the previous school year, there is no grace period in the current law.
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious disease that can be debilitating at any age and lethal to infants.
California’s current pertussis epidemic has killed 10 babies and stricken more than 11,000 people. Whooping cough gets its name from the gasping “whoop” sound children make after coughing.