Capistrano Unified School District officials announced in an e-mail this month that students entering grades seven to 12 will be required to have an additional vaccination before they can start school in the fall.
The vaccination—an inoculation against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough—is typically given to children during their rounds of vaccinations before entering school. However, because the vaccination wears off, a Tdap booster shot was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2005 for adolescents and adults.
“Adolescents and adults are often the reservoirs who pass things like whooping cough to infants,” said Michele Cheung, the department medical director of epidemiology for the Orange County Health Care Agency.
Following an upswing in whooping cough cases last year—particularly among children—the state Legislature passed AB 354, recommending that all students ages 10 and over be inoculated for the infections and requiring all students to be vaccinated against whooping cough.
This change will be enforced when students register each year.
“We will follow state law,” said Marcus Walton, chief communications manager for the district. “We have not heard anything from parents who are concerned about the changes.”
According to Cheung, all districts have been alerted about the law, though it is up to each school district to decide how to follow through on making sure that all students are immunized.
In 2010, Orange County had 466 cases of whooping cough, a monumental increase from the usual 24-60 cases each year. The last time Orange County experienced such a surge was in 2005, when there were 120 cases.
This is the only time that all students between grades seven and 12 will be checked for up-to-date shot records. After 2011, only students entering grade seven will be monitored to make sure they have been vaccinated.