Whooping Cough Booster Shot Requirement Information


Whooping cough (pertussis) has been widespread in California. Many students have had to miss school because they were sick.

To help protect your children and others from whooping cough, California law now requires students to be vaccinated against whooping cough.

All new students and those entering 7th grade will need proof of an adolescent whooping cough booster shot (Tdap) before starting school.

By law, students who do not have proof of receiving a Tdap booster shot will not be able to start school until proof is provided to the school. (The tetanus-diphtheria booster shot, Td, will not meet the requirement.)

We want to make sure your child starts school on time. We urge you to:

  1. Read the Frequently Asked Questions below.
  2. Get your child’s Tdap shot now if your child hasn’t received it already.
    • A large number of students need a Tdap shot between now and the start of school next year. Make an appointment with your child’s doctor or clinic for your child to get a Tdap booster shot now. Avoid the back-to-school rush.
  3. Bring a COPY of the proof of immunization to your child’s school.
    • Most of our schools are not open or are on a reduced schedule in the summer. Bring a COPY of your child’s immunization to your child’s school as soon as possible.

Getting the adolescent whooping cough shot now will not only help protect your child against the ongoing threat of whooping cough but will also meet the new school requirement.

If you have any questions, please contact Student Services at (805) 963-4338, extension 6278 or 6276.

Frequently Asked Questions

Provided by the California Department of Public Health

What is the Tdap requirement for 7th – 12th Graders?

In July 2011, a new law (AB 354) changing California immunization requirements for all students in 7th-12th grades went into effect. The law requires all students entering 7th grade and any new students transferring into grades 8-12 to show proof of a Tdap shot to start school. Limited exemptions are allowed.

What is Tdap?

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).

Why was the Tdap requirement added?

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. It can be deadly for infants. In recent years, whooping cough has been increasing in the United States. In 2010, whooping cough was widespread in California.

What are the diseases, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough)?

  • Tetanus – (also called lockjaw) causes painful tightening of the muscles. It can lead to “locking” of the jaw so the person cannot open his/her mouth or swallow.
  • Diphtheria – is a throat infection that can lead to breathing problems, paralysis, heart failure and death.
  • Whooping cough – (also called pertussis) 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. Symptoms can last for months. Whooping cough is very dangerous for young babies.

When should my child get vaccinated?

Children as young as 10 years old are recommended to get vaccinated with Tdap. This will protect them against the ongoing threat of whooping cough and will meet the Tdap school requirement for when they are in 7th grade.

Keep documentation of your child’s Tdap booster shot in a safe place. Your child will need proof of immunization in order to start school.

What if my child has had whooping cough recently or in the past?

Your child will still need a Tdap booster shot. Immunity developed after having whooping cough disease wears off, leaving your child at risk for getting whooping cough again. A Tdap booster shot is needed to both protect your child in the future and to meet the school requirement.

Why should my child get vaccinated?

In addition to it being a new requirement for starting 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 to 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.

Where can my child get vaccinated?

Children should visit their regular doctor or health care provider to get their Tdap shot. Children 18 years old and younger who are uninsured or underinsured may qualify for the Vaccines for Children Program. To find a provider near you, call 1-877-243-8832 or visit: www.eziz.org. Some local pharmacies and Health Departments may also offer the Tdap vaccine.

What if my child does not have proof of a Tdap shot before school starts?

He/She may not start school. Any student who does not have proof of getting a Tdap booster shot will not be allowed to start school until proof of immunization is given to the school.

Are immunization exemptions allowed under California law?

The same exemptions for children entering kindergarten apply. For more information, visit the Immunization Law page at www.shotsforschool.org.

What if my child has received a Tdap booster shot before 10 years of age?

Your child will be considered to have met the new school requirement with proof of getting a dose of Tdap on or after their 7th birthday. However, we recommend that children receive Tdap on or after their 10th birthday to provide better protection throughout their adolescent years.

What other immunizations should I consider for my child?

Preteens and teens are also recommended to receive vaccines against meningococcal disease (brain or blood infection), flu (influenza), HPV (human papillomavirus, a cause of cervical cancer), and any vaccine they may have missed during childhood. The recommended vaccine schedule may be found on the California Department of Public Health website. Talk with your healthcare provider for more information.

Should parents and others at home get the Tdap vaccine?

All persons 10 years and older are recommended to be vaccinated with Tdap now if they haven’t done so 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.

Where can I go for more information?

For more information, visit the California Department of Public Health, Immunization Branch website.