August 19, 2011
More than 42,000 7th-12th graders across the county still need to provide proof they have received the pertussis booster shot or get vaccinated against the disease.
To help parents meet this new requirement, the County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA), working with the County Office of Education and school districts, is organizing additional vaccination clinics to immunize all middle and high school students before the new school year starts in about two weeks. Full schedule of vaccination clinics (PDF).
“The clinics are a great opportunity for parents to vaccinate their children so that they can start school on time,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County Public Health Officer. “The booster shot will help protect students from contracting pertussis and avoid infecting their classmates or younger siblings at home.”
AB 354 went into effect July 1 and requires all 7th through 12th graders—in public and private schools—to show proof of having received the pertussis booster shot, or Tdap, in order to enroll in school.
The new law impacted about 230,000 local students; more than half had not received the vaccine when schools districts increased their efforts to identity those that have not received the booster shot.
In the past three months, school officials have been able to obtain Tdap proof or vaccinate an additional 70,000 students. However, there are still an estimated 40,000 middle and high school students that need to be vaccinated or show proof they’ve received the vaccine; 21,000 of those attend school in the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD).
“Schools are committed to doing everything they can to protect the safety and wellbeing of all students,” said SDUSD Superintendent Bill Kowba. “While parents will have up to 30 days to meet the Tdap requirement once classes begin, we recommend they vaccinate their children now to avoid any class disruptions.”
In addition to the special clinics organized by HHSA, parents can also get the vaccine from their primary care physician, community clinic or retail pharmacy. Those with no medical coverage can vaccinate their children at one of the County’s seven public health centers.
“Doctors’ appointments are filling up fast,” added Wooten. “We encourage parents to vaccinate their children now to avoid long lines and wait times.”
AB 354 was passed as a result of last year’s pertussis epidemic, which established new records of whooping cough cases across the state, including San Diego County where 1,144 cases were reported. This year, 335 pertussis cases have been reported to date.
Pertussis is a highly contagious disease that can spread quickly and can be deadly. In 2010, two local infants died from complications from the disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children get one dose of DTaP vaccine at the following ages: 2 months; 4 months; 6 months; 15 to 18 months; and 4 to 6 years. The Tdap booster shot is recommended for adolescents, age 11 to 18 years, preferably administered at age 11 to 12 years.
A typical case of pertussis in children and adults starts with a cough and runny nose for one to two weeks, followed by weeks to months of rapid coughing fits that sometimes end with a whooping sound. Fever, if present, is usually mild. The disease is treatable with antibiotics.
For more information about Tdap or the vaccination clinics, visit www.sdiz.org or call 2-1-1.