New state law requires pertussis boosters for students entering grades seven through 12

As we first reported back in January, a new California law requires students entering grades seven through 12 to get immunized with a pertussis booster shot.

Though subsequent legislation now gives students an additional 30 days to get the vaccination, health experts have been advising families not to wait too long in order to avoid a last-minute crush at the doctor’s office, and Irvine parents appear to be heeding the call. By mid-July, more than 80 percent of eligible IUSD students had received their boosters and turned in the necessary paperwork.

“We want to thank our parents for responding so quickly to promote the safety of their children and this community,” said Marcia Noonan, the district’s coordinator of Health Services.

Those who have received their shots are encouraged to return the accompanying forms as soon as possible to IUSD (Attention: Health Services) at 5050 Barranca Parkway, Irvine, Calif. 92604. Or you can fax the document directly to Health Services at 949-936-7539.

Pertussis, commonly known as “whooping cough,” is a contagious disease that causes a persistent cough, which may be followed by a whooping sound when inhaling, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency. The deep cough may also be accompanied by vomiting, gagging, choking or turning blue. Pertussis is said to pose a greater risk to newborns and other vulnerable populations.

In response to a national epidemic, California passed Assembly Bill 354, mandating that children 10 years and older show proof that they’ve recently received a pertussis booster shot called “Tdap” as a condition of enrollment. The Tdap vaccination includes boosters for tetanus and diphtheria, and adults are also advised to get the shot if they haven’t already – particularly if they’re around infants. Early boosters, while effective, can weaken over time, health experts say.

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