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Tdap Requirement and Documentation

What is the new pertussis booster requirement?

  • For the 2014-2015 school year, and all future school years, all students entering, advancing or transferring into 7th grade will need proof of an adolescent whooping cough booster immunization (called “Tdap”) for school in the fall.

What is Tdap and what are the diseases that the Tdap vaccine prevents?
Tdap is a booster vaccine for older children, adolescents, and adults. It safely protects against 3 dangerous diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough (also called pertussis).

  • Pertussis – also known as whooping cough, is a contagious disease that causes violent coughing fits that make it hard to breathe. It spreads easily when someone with the disease coughs or sneezes. The symptoms can last for months. Whooping cough is particularly dangerous for young babies.
  • Tetanus – causes a severe, painful tightening (spasms) of muscles, including of the jaw (‘lockjaw’), which can limit swallowing and breathing.
  • Diphtheria – is a throat infection that can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure and death.

Do ALL 7th grade students need to get the pertussis 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 new 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.

Why does my child need Tdap?
In addition to it being a new 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 pertussis, 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 pertussis 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 new requirement.

Instead of getting a Tdap booster to meet the new requirement, can a student get a blood test to check for protection (immunity) against pertussis?
No. Testing for immunity to pertussis is not reliable and will not meet the new 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 like the previous school year. Under current law, schools do not have the option to provide a grace period. All 7th grade students will need to show proof of Tdap immunization or submit an exemption before starting the 7th grade.

Should parents and others at home get the Tdap vaccine?
All persons 10 years and older are recommended to be vaccinated with Tdap to protect them against the ongoing threat of pertussis. Immunization also helps to protect close contacts, including young infants for whom pertussis is most severe and sometimes fatal.

How long do you have to wait after your last tetanus shot before getting Tdap?
According to state and national recommendations, the dose of Tdap required for the school law may be given at any time after the last tetanus shot.

How soon does the Tdap vaccine work?
Typically 1-2 weeks after the injection.

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