Tdap vaccine required for incoming seventh-graders

Parents of children entering seventh grade this fall can be ahead of the game by getting their pre-teen vaccinated now with the pertussis vaccine booster dose, also known as Tdap.

Beginning with the 2012-13 school year, and for all future school years, California law requires incoming seventh-grade students in public and private schools to show proof of Tdap vaccination before starting school.

“We want to make sure parents are aware of the requirement now so they don’t get caught off guard later,” explained Cathy Dunbar, El Dorado County Immunization Coordinator.

Dunbar said she has spoken with numerous parents who are uncertain whether their child really needs the vaccine. “Some parents think their child already has had the vaccine so they don’t need it,” said Dunbar. “But the Tdap vaccine is different from the pertussis vaccine that kids get as infants and at kindergarten entry. Tdap is a booster shot specifically designed for pre-teens, teens and adults. It boosts the waning protection from the doses of DTaP that their child received when they were younger.”

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a contagious respiratory infection that can lead to severe coughing fits, hospitalizations, and death among unprotected individuals, particularly infants. The California law requiring the Tdap vaccine for adolescents was passed in response to the epidemic of whooping cough in California in 2010 that resulted in 9,477 cases, hundreds of hospitalizations and ten infant deaths.

Studies have shown that immunity developed from early vaccination starts to wear off around adolescence. A large number of pertussis cases in 2010 were among middle school and high school aged children. In addition to whooping cough, the Tdap vaccine also protects the body against tetanus and diphtheria.

Parents are encouraged to seek out the Tdap vaccine before the start of the 2012-13 school year and schedule a vaccination appointment with their health care provider to do so.

Additional vaccines recommended for pre-teens and adolescents are the Meningococcal vaccine that protects against meningitis, the HPV vaccine that protects against cervical cancer and genital warts (and is recommended for both males and females now), the second dose of chicken pox vaccine if not given already, and the annual influenza vaccine. Parents should also ask their health care provider about other vaccines their child may need.

The El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency’s Public Health Division offers the Tdap vaccine, and other childhood and adolescent vaccines, by appointment at low cost. To schedule a vaccination appointment call (530) 621-6100 in Placerville or (530) 573-3155 in South Lake Tahoe.

For more information about the school Tdap requirement and the services of the Public Health Division visit www.edcgov.us/publichealth.

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Posted by on Apr 3 2012.
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