Q: I heard there is a new state mandate on vaccines. What do I need to know before school starts in the Fall?

In California Public Schools, children entering the 7th grade will need to have the Tdap vaccine prior to starting school for the 2011-2012 school year.

In 2009, there were 12 infant deaths and almost 17,000 cases of Pertussis infection, or Whooping Cough in the United States. Pertussis is a respiratory infection causing moderate to severe coughing fits  which are following by a gasp for breath which, in infants, sounds like a high pitched "whoop." Since the airways of infants are so small, they are vulnerable to death from this infection.

Pertussis infection can be prevented with a vaccine called Tetanus Toxoid, Reduced Diphtheria Toxoid and Acellular Pertussis (Tdap) Vaccine. This vaccine is routinely given to children but, as vaccines take time to protect us, even an infant who has been given one to two doses of this vaccine may still not be fully protected. Due to this, I recommend adults and children receive this vaccine to reduce the total number of Pertussis cases in our community.

In the mid 1980's Pertussis was nearly eradicated in the U.S. It began making a steady comeback with increasing deaths. Then, in 2005, recommendations by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) called for increased Tdap vaccination for adolescents and adults. However, despite those recommendations, nationwide Tdap coverage is only 56 percent among adolescents and less than six percent among adults.

As a result, and in light of the increase in infections, the ACIP recommended expanded use of TDap vaccine in October 2010. 

California adopted this recommendation and mandated this vaccine for all children entering the 7th grade in any public school in California beginning with the 2011-2012 school year.

San Marino Patch shared more about the vaccination and local reaction in this . 

Although this will undoubtedly improve the Tdap coverage among adolescents, it will take a generation for those adolescents to affect the very low adult vaccination rate. So it is up to the adults in our community to ensure that we protect ourselves just as well as we protect our children with this important vaccination.

Call your doctor to get yourself vaccinated and call your child's pediatrician to see if you or your child is due for the Tdap vaccine.

Remember, there are two vaccinations for adults: The Tdap and the Td, which is the Tetanus-diphtheria WITHOUT pertussis protection. Until recently, the Td was the recommended vaccination for patients age 62 or older. And, many doctors do not routinely offer the Tdap vaccine, so you may not be protected despite being up to date on your tetanus vaccine.  This vaccination is safe in pregnancy, and the new guidelines in October 2010 also stated that Tdap is recommended regardless of the interval since receiving the last tetanus vaccine (Td).

Hope this helps,

Your Neighborhood Docs


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