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Whooping Cough Vaccination Required for Seventh Graders

All seventh-grade students in California schools must show proof of vaccination to their school district.

Students who are entering grade seven in California schools—both public and private—are required by state law to be vaccinated against whooping cough.

Also referred to as pertussis, whooping cough requires a vaccine booster known as a Tdap, which stands for Tetanus Toxoid, Reduced Diphtheria Toxoid and Acellular Pertussis.

According to the National Institute of Health, pertussis is a contagious bacterial disease that causes uncontrollable, violent coughing that makes it difficult to breath:

Coughing spells may lead to vomiting or a short loss of consciousness. Pertussis should always be considered when vomiting occurs with coughing. In infants, choking spells are common.

Once students have been vaccinated, they will be issued a certificate to bring with them on the first day of classes.

Exemptions are permitted in two instances:

Medical Exemption

  • A licensed physician (M.D. or D.O.) who feels a vaccine is not suitable for a student because of medical reasons should submit to the school (via the patient's family as needed) a written statement documenting the medical exemption. The school should place a copy of the completed statement in the student's file.

Personal Belief Exemption

  • A parent or guardian may have a child exempted from required immunizations if it's contrary to his/her beliefs. Schools have standardized procedures for parents and guardians who request a personal beliefs exemption.

"There are children out there not getting the proper inoculations, whether due to moral or religious reasons, and as a result, the disease continues to spread," Alice Garcia, a nurse with the , told Patch in .

Garcia said many parents have been fearful of a speculated link between the vaccine and autism. "Studies have been done and found no connection between the two," she said.

Though most dangerous in infants, the illness, a bacterial infection, can affect older children, even if they have been vaccinated. 

"This disease is highly contagious and is easily spread face-to-face through coughing or sneezing. In addition, we are finding that the vaccines are only effective for ten years," Garcia said.

For the 2011-12 school year, California students in grades seven to 12 were required to be immunized with a Tdap shot. For the 2012-13 school year and beyond, only seventh graders are required to show proof of immunization.

The Teller August 16, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Thank you for including the information about the "Personal Belief Exemption". Many are still unaware they have an option.

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