Incoming seventh- through 12th-grade students have one more hurdle to jump before school opens next week. They must show proof of a whooping cough vaccination.
A new California law, effective July 1, requires that junior high and high school students receive the Tdap booster vaccine which includes the Pertussis (whooping cough) booster vaccine in addition to the previously required of Diphtheria and Tetanus immunizations.
According to the California Department of Health, pertussis is a highly contagious bacterial illness spread by coughs and sneezes. Whooping cough is most contagious before the coughing starts. People sick with pertussis have severe coughing attacks that make it difficult to breathe and can last for months. The disease can be fatal for infants.
Vaccination is the best defense against whooping cough, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. However, the immunity wears off over time and pertussis booster vaccine rates in adolescents and adults continue to be low. As a result, pertussis continues to circulate widely in California.
As of June 2011, the California Department of Public Heath has identified 1,428 cases of pertussis, with onset this year. Santa Clara County listed 452 confirmed, probable and suspect cases in 2010 and 139 cases in 2011 to date.
Los Altos School District Nurse Elizabeth Lytle said junior high students may not attend school without proof of a Tdap booster given on or after the student’s seventh birthday.
At Los Altos and Mountain View high schools, students without proof of immunization will not receive their schedules or textbooks or be allowed to attend classes until the school registrar receives the proof.
The high school district sent an email to parents listing local sites for immunizations. CVS Pharmacy (El Monte Avenue and El Camino Real) offers the vaccine for $53.59, Walgreens offers it for the $69.99; and Safeway (Shoreline Boulevard and California Street) for $59.99.
Immunizations are also available on a sliding scale at RotaCare in Mountain View, the Mayview Community Health Services Clinic in Mountain View and through various personal care providers.
For more information, visit www.sccoe.org/depts/riskmngt/whooping_cough.asp.