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Whooping cough vaccination mandatory for junior and high school students
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Before junior and high school students can ever step foot into their homeroom classes, they’re going to have to roll up their sleeves for one more shot.

Beginning with the 2011-12 school year, all middle and high school students in California must be vaccinated against pertussis, also known as whooping cough. Effective July 1, all students in both private and public schools, will have to show proof of receiving a Tdap booster shot.

The new mandatory vaccine was signed into law in 2010 by then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in the wake of an increase of whooping cough cases in California.

“With more than 7,800 confirmed cases and the deaths of 10 infants, California experienced its worst outbreak of pertussis in more than 50 years," said California Department of Public Health  Director Dr. Mark Horton. "Protecting the health of California’s youth is one of our most urgent priorities. This new legislation will help us achieve our goal.”

California’s parents are being urged not to wait for the new fall school year to get their kids vaccinated, since there will be no grace period and the regulations will be strictly enforced.

Whooping cough is a bacterial infection that attacks the respiratory system. The disease is characterized by severe coughing spasms and last for several weeks, or months. It’s spread from person to person through coughing and/or sneezing. It’s a highly contagious disease that infants and young children are particularly vulnerable to if they haven’t been immunized, the Centers for Disease Control reported.

Pertussis vaccination begins at two months of age, but young infants are not adequately protected until the initial series of three shots is complete at 6 months of age. The series of shots that most children receive wears off by the time they finish middle school and they will need a booster shot. Neither vaccination nor illness from pertussis provides lifetime immunity.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.