A new law changing California immunization requirements for students passed on Sept. 29, 2010. For the next school year (2011 – 2012), students entering seventh grade and above are required to have proof of an adolescent whooping cough booster shot (“Tdap” shot) before starting school. For the next and subsequent school years, only students entering seventh grade will need proof of a Tdap shot before starting school.
“I have been a nurse for a very long time, and I have never seen any requirement this extensive,” said school nurse Sandee Velasquez. “As overwhelming as it is to make sure that every student between seventh and twelfth grade has received this vaccine before the start of school next year, I believe that this is a very important public health requirement.”
The Tdap shot protects against the diseases tetanus, which causes painful tightening of the muscles, diphtheria, a throat infection that can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure, and death, and pertussis (whooping cough), which is contagious and causes coughing attacks that make it hard to breathe. Pertussis is especially severe and even sometimes fatal for babies.
“I have seen babies with whooping cough and it is a very sad and scary sight to watch a baby overcome by this preventable disease,” said Velasquez.
The new vaccine requirement was implemented to prevent the spread of the whooping cough disease among California’s youth. In the past, numerous schools in California have suffered from outbreaks which resulted in closing of schools because there were not enough healthy teachers. In 2010, California reported the most cases in more than 60 years.
Students at CVHS expressed their approval of the shot requirement.
“I think we should have the right to choose whether we want the shot or not,” said junior Cassandra Wong. “But I would still get the vaccine.”