With about an average of 25 percent of students at Berkeley middle and high schools not yet been vaccinated for whooping cough, Berkeley Unified School District schools continue to urge students to arm themselves against the bacterial disease, as required by a new state law passed last year.
Seventh through 12th grade students without the “Tdap” booster shot will not be able to attend school after Sept. 29 — the end of the 30-day grace period.
The state law passed last September came in response to whooping cough outbreaks both in California and nationwide in the past few years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s website, California had 9,143 documented cases of whooping cough in 2010 — the highest number reported in 63 years — out of a total 27,550 cases reported nationally.
The district’s Superintendent Bill Huyett said according to latest statistics, an average of 75 percent of Berkeley students have had their vaccination. The percentage varies from school to school, Huyett said.
The district has tried to notify parents through the phone system of what options they have and when the deadline is, Huyett said.
He added that students may just be waiting until the last minute to get this done, or it is possible that some families may be facing complications in getting vaccinated if they do not have a healthcare provider.
For Berkeley high schoolers, the vaccination is offered for free at the on-campus health center.
Parents and guardians can sign a personal belief exemption from immunization requirements if the immunization is contrary to their beliefs.
In Oakland, there are 1,900 students out of a 13,000 target population that have not been immunized in the Oakland schools to date, according to Troy Flint, spokesperson for the Oakland Unified School District.
The Oakland school district has made a huge effort to reach out to the public with a marketing campaign that has been in effect since the spring, Flint said. Many resources have been made available to all parents and students, including free vaccination services.
Now that the deadline is next week, Oakland Unified School District hopes everyone who has not yet complied with the state law will take the vaccination seriously, Flint said.
“We put a big push behind this and I am gratified that a vast number of people have taken advantage of this service, but we want 100 percent compliance,” he said.
Weiru Fang covers local schools.