On the to-do list for back to school is buying new school supplies, getting clothes in order and making sure you've got your emergency contacts in order.
But don't forget one new item this year, required throughout the state: Tdap vaccine booster for all incoming 7th through 12th graders.
Assembly Bill 354 mandates students entering or advancing to grades seven through 12 in the 2011-2012 school year to be immunized with a pertussis vaccine booster called Tdap, or Tetanus Toxoid, Reduced Diphtheria Toxoid and Acellular Pertussis.
The new requirement went into effect July 1 for one year and affects all students entering public and private schools.
According to the Health Department's website, "Despite the new state law that allows schools a 30-day grace period, parents are strongly encouraged to have their children vaccinated as soon as possible to ensure students will not be denied access to school."
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough due to it’s persistent “whoop”- like cough, is a highly contagious airborne bacterial illness spread through coughs and sneezes. Pertussis is hard to diagnose, as its early symptoms are similar to that of a common cold, with runny nose, fever and cough.
But what distinguishes pertussis from the common cold is what happens in its second phase, according to Dr. Sara Cody, deputy health officer with the Santa Clara County Public Health Department. After a couple of weeks, the pertussis infection causes intense coughing spasms that oftentimes leave a person gasping for air.
“Because its so contagious, we must have a large amount of the population vaccinated in order to get what we call “herd immunization,” which would protect a majority,” Cody said in an earlier interview.
The Public Health Department is now offering low-cost and free daytime and evening clinics.
State-sponsored Tdap clinics are available at no cost on the following evenings between 4:30—7:30pm, at the Public Health Department at 976 Lenzen Avenue in San Jose:
- Tuesday, August 9
- Thursday, August 11
- Tuesday, August 16
- Thursday, August 18
Tdap shots are also available during normal clinic hours from 8:00 to 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 to 4:00 p.m every day. Each Tdap shot is $15, or on a sliding scale based on ability to pay.
Shots are also availible at Rite-Aid for children ages 7 and up and cost $66. By appointment only.
Remember to bring child's yellow immunization card in order to get the vaccine.
For more information, visit the Public Health Department’s website www.sccphd.org.