In response to the national epidemic of pertussis, commonly known as “whooping cough,” the state of California has imposed a new requirement for students who will start grades 7 through 12 on or after July 1, 2011.
Assembly Bill 354 now mandates that children entering these grade levels show proof that they’ve recently received a pertussis booster shot called “Tdap.” In fact, the shot is a condition of enrollment.
Pertussis is a contagious disease that brings about a persistent cough, which may be followed by a distinct crowing – or whooping – sound when inhaling, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency. The deep cough can also be accompanied by vomiting, gagging, choking or turning blue. Agency officials note that it poses a great risk to newborns and other vulnerable populations.
Early booster shots are effective but can weaken over time, which is why health officials are now requiring children 10 years and older to get the Tdap vaccination. (It includes boosters for tetanus and diphtheria.) Adults are also advised to get the shot if they haven’t already, and this is said to be critically important for those who may be in close contact with infants.
For more information, please visit IUSD’s Health Services website by clicking here, or contact the department by phone at 949-936-7520. (Additionally, Health Services has a list of frequently asked questions and answers here.)
Parents can also get more information about pertussis from their family doctors or by visiting the county Health Care Agency’s website at www.ochealthinfo.com/pertussis.