Some students in California are starting the school year without having received a vaccination for pertussis, or whooping cough, even though a new state law mandates inoculation for students entering grades seven through 12, HealthyCal reports (Afrasiabi, HealthyCal, 9/13).
Last year, California had a record-breaking epidemic of whooping cough. There were more than 9,100 reported cases of pertussis and 10 infant deaths stemming from the illness last year, marking 2010 as the worst year for whooping cough in the state since 1947.
State law now requires students entering grades seven through 12 to receive a whooping cough booster shot within 30 days of starting school, unless they submit a personal belief exemption.
The exemptions, signed by parents, allow children to start school without having received some or all vaccinations (California Healthline, 9/6).
Details of Compliance With Vaccine Requirement
Catherine Flores Martin, director of the California Immunization Coalition, said that as of May, the coalition had heard from about 20% of California schools that their students likely will miss the immunization deadline.
She noted that budget cuts have hampered the ability of community clinics to generate promotional tools and other educational resources.
Linda Davis-Alldritt -- a school nurse consultant for the state Department of Education -- said this is the first time that the state has had to get such a large population to comply with a new law and the first time an immunization law has affected high school students.
She said that mobilizing the state as a whole has required significant effort.
Davis-Alldritt added that the Department of Education has received information from several school districts around the state that they have between 20% and 40% of students inoculated (HealthyCal, 9/13).