Aug 10, 2011 9:50 PM by Ariel Wesler

Schools spreading the word about mandatory whooping cough vaccine

In tonight's "Your Family" report, a new back-to-school requirement in California has parents scrambling to get their kids vaccinated.

The new state law requires all students entering 7th through 12th grades to get a vaccine for whooping cough called TDAP, but the state is giving students an extra month to get it done.

The law is in response to last year's whooping cough epidemic. There were more than 9,000 cases statewide, the highest number since the 1950's. At one point, San Luis Obispo County had the most.

It's probably the most important item on your kid's back- to-school list.

"They have to have a dose of TDAP before they start school," said Adriana Almaguer, Immunization Coordinator for Santa Barbara County Public Health.

Angie Lopez is entering 10th grade at Santa Maria High.

"It didn't hurt at all. I was kinda scared at first, but it was real fast," Lopez said.

Santa Maria High School began notifying parents at the end of the last year over the phone and through the mail, but many are still waiting until the last minute.

While school leaders want students to get vaccinated as soon as possible, the state is giving them an extra 30 days to get it done.

"The face-to-face interaction definitely makes things a lot easier," said Santa Maria High Assistant Principal Pete Flores.

Staff members at the school's health center have been processing hundreds of forms since they returned to campus last week.

"Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, there were just monumental amounts of people coming in here," said SMHS Health Technician John Coria. "Most of the kids have had their TDAP already, but they haven't turned it in."

Ariel: What do you think about the 30-day grace period?

Coria: "They're gonna need it," he said.

To get your kids vaccinated, you can schedule appointments with your own doctor or at the Santa Barbara County or San Luis Obispo County Public Health clinics.

"I would hope that nobody would get discouraged because they haven't had it, and I hope they know that we're willing to work with them to get it," Flores said.

Health officials say it's your best shot to avoid another epidemic.

Santa Maria High is holding a clinic on Monday from
8 a.m.-5 p.m. That's the day before school starts, so if you are going to go, administrators say expect long lines.

There is an exemption for parents who don't want to get their kids vaccinated because of personal beliefs or medical reasons.

For more information about TDAP and the new law, just click here.


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