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Whooping Cough (Pertussis) Booster Requirement

  • All students entering, advancing or transferring into 7th grade need proof of an adolescent whooping cough booster immunization (called “Tdap”).

Do ALL 7th grade students need to get the whooping cough immunization? Yes. Unless they have an exemption, all students going into 7th grade must have proof of having had the Tdap booster shot. This includes current students, new students and transfer students in both public and private schools. Many students have already received the vaccine and simply need to supply proof to the school, so check with your doctor or provider.

Why is the Tdap vaccine required? This requirement will help protect your child and others in your school and community from whooping cough. Whooping cough is a serious disease that causes coughing fits that can last for months. In recent years, whooping cough has been increasing in the United States. Whooping cough has been widespread in California and was responsible for 10 infant deaths in 2010.

Why should my child get vaccinated with Tdap? In addition to it being a requirement for school, children who get a Tdap booster shot will be better protected during their school years. Immunization also helps to protect others within the home, in the community, and at school. Immunizations help prevent school closures. Many schools in California have suffered from outbreaks of whooping cough. Students got very sick and parents missed work and lost wages to care for their sick children. In some cases, schools had to close, because there were not enough healthy teachers to keep schools open.

When should my child get vaccinated with Tdap? Now. Unimmunized children are at risk for catching whooping cough, getting really sick and missing weeks of school. Besides protecting your child, you can also beat the back-to-school rush by making an appointment for your incoming 7th grader to get a Tdap booster shot now. Keep documentation of your child’s Tdap booster shot in a safe place. Your child will need proof of immunization for school. Check with your school about how and when to submit the documentation.

What if my child had whooping cough recently or in the past? Any protection (immunity) developed after having whooping cough disease wears off, leaving your child at risk for getting whooping cough again. A whooping cough booster shot is needed to both protect your child in the future and to meet the school requirement. A Tdap dose administered on or after the 7th birthday will meet the requirement.

Instead of getting a Tdap booster to meet the requirement, can a student get a blood test to check for protection (immunity) against whooping cough? No. Testing for immunity to whooping cough is not reliable and will not meet the school requirement.

What if my child does not have proof of a Tdap shot before school starts? Your child will not be able to start school until you submit the documentation for the Tdap requirement to the school.

Is there a grace period/extension to get the shot AFTER school starts? No. As of now, there is no grace period or extension. Under current law, schools do not have the option to provide a grace period. All 7th grade students need to show proof of Tdap immunization or submit an exemption before starting school.

https://www.shotsforschool.org/k-12/