Valley schools scramble making sure kids are vaccinated

TULARE, Calif.

Thursday is the first day of school for Tulare Unified and that means it's already a busy time of year. Couple that with making sure all 1900 7th and 8th graders are vaccinated within the next few weeks.

While most students at Cherry Avenue Middle School are thinking about new notebooks, friends, teachers and what classes they're taking -- administrators with Tulare City School District are hoping they're also thinking about their pertussis vaccine.

Luis Castellanoz, Superintendent said, "It was just the timing. Had we had more time it would have been a lot easier but everyone was put under some extreme tight timelines."

A California law passed last year requires all seventh through twelfth graders get vaccinated for pertussis. School officials immediately began working to make sure it's more than 1900 7th and 8th graders were vaccinated within the first 30 days of the 2011 school year. By March, the district still needed 1300 students vaccinated.

Tricia Grissom, Head Nurse said, "All from January all through the summer we had health staff working the summer, we went to all the orientations. Our middle school principals helped us out, getting out information during orientation and when they sent letters home."

In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control reports more than 9,000 cases of pertussis in California. Ten infants died. Most children get a pertussis vaccine before kindergarten but it can wear off in 7-10 years.

Grissom said, "So that's where we're getting students who are getting pertussis and we have had students previously in our district that have had pertussis."

The number of children still needing vaccinations in Tulare's Elementary School District is now down to 390, but officials are warning parents not to waste any more time.

Castellanoz said, "The clock is ticking and parents need to continue working to make sure their children are immunized and they meet that timeline."

The deadline for your child to get vaccinated in Tulare is September 26th. If you live in another district, you're advised to call your school's nurses office to check your deadline.

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