Justin: Almost every student’s new school year routine involves something new; new shirts, maybe new shoes. But, how about new…shots?
Student: Oh, that hurt!
“You didn’t feel it.”
Student: I did!
Justin: Thousands of California public school students are feeling it too. The painful prick of a vaccination needle filled with medicine to protect students from pertussis, or whooping cough.
California passed legislation requiring middle and high schoolers to get the vaccine last year.
“All the high schools and the 7th graders and 8th graders need to have a t-dap shot.”
Justing: The t-dap shot protects against whooping cough. It is a disease that infects the lungs, leading to severe coughing. It is also a highly contagious and preventable illness that was once nearly wiped out after a vaccine was discovered almost a century ago. But last year, whooping cough made a comeback in California, sickening more than nine thousand people, and killing ten infants. One reason could be that additional vaccines, called booster shots, may not last as long as once thought.
“We felt helpless watching his violent coughing fits.”
Justin: Over the summer, ads urged parents to vaccinate their children before starting school, but thousands of students did not, and as a result, did not get into class.
Student: They were kicking me out of school because I didn’t have my shot.”
Justin: How is that for homework?
At one point, in California’s Berkley school system, as many as 600 students had to show proof they got their whooping cough vaccine. No proof? No class. And Berkley superintendent stands behind the hard rule.
“That’s right. And California, with a dropout rate as high as it is, we can’t afford to lose any students. So, I do worry about that with laws like this.”
Justin: Since 2007, forty states have passed laws requiring middle and high schoolers to be up-to-date on the whooping cough vaccine.
“Whenever you mandate anything, there’s going to be some discussion, quite appropriately, and some pushback.”
Justin: In California, families who are against vaccines dont’ have to get their students whooping cough shots but they have to have special permission to do so.
Justin Finch, Channel One News.