California has avoided an outbreak of pertussis -- or whooping cough -- in the U.S. in part because of mandatory vaccination requirements for seventh-grade students, according to school district officials, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Vorwerck, San Jose Mercury News, 7/27).
In 2010, California had a record-breaking whooping cough epidemic. There were more than 9,100 reported cases of pertussis and 10 infant deaths stemming from the illness that year, marking 2010 as the worst year for whooping cough in the state since 1947.
As a result, state law now requires students entering grades seven through 12 to receive a whooping cough booster shot -- known as Tdap -- within 30 days of starting school, unless they submit a personal belief exemption.
According to CDC, nearly 18,000 whooping cough cases have been reported so far this year in the U.S., which is more than double the number of cases reported at this point last year. If whooping cough continues to be diagnosed at this rate, the number of cases will be the highest since 1959, when a total of 40,000 cases were reported.
This year, the California Department of Public Health has recorded 400 cases of whooping cough statewide.
Kathleen Harriman -- an epidemiologist with the California Department of Health -- said that she expects that number to reach no more than about 1,000 by the end of the year (California Healthline, 7/20).
Benefits of Vaccination Requirement
Jim Lianides -- superintendent of the Sequoia Union High School District in San Mateo County -- said that most schools in the area should avoid problems with whooping cough in part because of the state law requiring vaccinations of students entering seventh grade.
He said, "[A]ll school districts in the state really worked hard during the previous 12-month period to make sure that all students had the required vaccine."
Tabitha Kapperler-Hurley -- spokesperson for the Santa Clara County Unified School District -- said that while most state schools provide one-month extensions for students to receive vaccinations after the school year begins, Santa Clara County Unified School District bans students from attending classes until they are vaccinated.
Melinda Landau -- manager for Health and Family Support Programs for the San Jose Unified School District -- said, "[Y]ou're not only protecting your child, you're protecting other people's children too." She added, "I just can't emphasize enough that if the kids are in seventh grade, they should get the vaccination right now" (San Jose Mercury News, 7/27).