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Students Can’t Start School Without Whooping Cough Vaccine

New California law requires seventh- through 12th-graders to get vaccinated before the start of the school year.

Parents have about 50 days to get their seventh- through 12th-grade students vaccinated for whooping cough.

A relatively new California law requires students to get the immunization before the start of the 2011-12 school year.

Students who do not receive the immunization or provide documentation by the first day of school won’t be allowed to start school.

The mandatory shot, Tdap, can protect students from contracting whooping cough, a highly contagious respiratory disease. In Placer County, there were 51 confirmed cases of whooping cough in 2010 – two-thirds of those cases occurred in people over 10 years old, according to Placer County Health and Human Services. There were no deaths or hospitalizations reported that year in the county, but it was the highest reported number of cases since 2000, according to county documents.

Within the , Assistant Superintendent Evonne Rogers said there were three confirmed cases of whooping cough and five possible cases last year.

Richard Pierucci, superintendent of , said they didn’t see a large number of cases of whooping cough within the district’s schools.

But state-wide, the number of whooping cough, or pertussis, cases in 2011 already exceeds the number of cases in 2009, according to Dr. Howard Backer, the interim director of the California Department of Public Health.

“In 2010, California experienced a record high number of pertussis illnesses, including 10 infant deaths,” Backer said in a release. “While it is too early to know if this year will reach the same high levels of this debilitating disease, California is currently experiencing more cases than would be typically expected, but fortunately no fatalities.”

According to the California Department of Public Health, more than one million students statewide have yet to be vaccinated for the start of the school year.

Within the Dry Creek district, between 55 and 65 percent of students provided proof of the Tdap immunization by the end of the school year Rogers said.

“Our consistent communication really, really helped,” she said.

Parents can request an exemption because of verified medical conditions and personal beliefs.

For more information on the California law and whooping cough, go to the Shots for Schools website.

Where can I get the Tdap vaccine?

Every Monday, between 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 1-4 p.m. at the , 1130 Conroy Lane, Suite 402 in Roseville.

Do I have whooping cough?

Early signs are similar to cold symptoms:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Low or no fever
  • Mild cough

Symptoms can become worse and last for months. Coughing attacks could lead to:

  • Vomiting
  • A red or blue face
  • A “whoop” sound
  • Problems breathing
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Sweating spells

(Information from the Placer County Department of Health and Human Services)

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