All seventh-grade students in the will need to provide proof that they were vaccinated against whooping cough, also known as pertussis, before they can attend classes this year, according to the California Department of Public Health.
Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory bacterial disease that can be severe and last for months, according to the CDPH. Older students and adults are more susceptible to pertussis because the immunity received from an early childhood immunization or a case of whooping cough wears off over time.
More than 9,000 cases of cases of pertussis—including 10 infant deaths—were reported in California during 2010, according to the CDPH.
The required Tdap booster shot protects against pertussis, tetanus and diphtheria.
Students who have a documented exemption due to personal beliefs or medical issues do not have to provide proof of vaccination; however, exemptions are strongly discouraged, according to the CDPH.
The California Department of Public Health also recommends parents vaccinate their children against Meningococcal meningitis, chickenpox, human papillomavirus (HPV) and the seasonal flu.
Students can get the Tdap vaccination through their regular health-care provider. Additionally, some local pharmacies may offer the Tdap vaccine and other immunizations.
The new school immunization law went into effect last year. In the 2011-2012 school year, all students entering seventh through 12th grades in California were required to provide proof of a Tdap shot. For 2012-2013 and beyond, only seventh-grade students must provide proof of the vaccination.