Sansum Clinic pediatrician, Dr. Dan Brennan and family medicine physician, Dr. Ali Javanbakht discuss the Tdap vaccine and its requirement for 7th graders in California Schools. Learn what you need to know as a parent about getting your child vaccinated with the Tdap vaccine in Santa Barbara County.
Q: What is the Tdap or pertussis booster requirement for California Public Schools?
A: All students entering, advancing or transferring into 7th grade need proof of an adolescent whooping cough booster immunization (called “Tdap”).
Q: What is Tdap and what are the diseases that the Tdap vaccine prevents?
A: Tdap is a booster vaccine for older children, adolescents, and adults. It safely protects against 3 dangerous diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (also called whooping cough).
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.
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.
Q: Do ALL 7th grade students need to get the pertussis immunization?
A: 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.
Q: Why is the Tdap vaccine required?
A: 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.
Q: When should my child get vaccinated with Tdap?
A: 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.
Q: What if my child had whooping cough recently or in the past?
A: 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.
Q: Should parents and others at home get the Tdap vaccine?
A: Yes. Parents and other adults and adolescents at home get vaccinated with Tdap now if they haven’t done so already. Immunization also helps to protect close contacts, including young infants for whom pertussis is most severe.
If you would like to schedule a visit at Sansum Clinic for a Tdap vaccination for you or your child, call 1 (800) 4 SANSUM and ask to be connected with a primary care provider in your area.