Governor signs bill for pertussis vaccine grace period

City News Service

Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed a San Diego lawmaker’s bill giving California schoolchildren a 30-day grace period for getting up-to-date with their whooping cough vaccinations.

Beginning July 1, students entering grades 7-12 in California are supposed to prove they are fully immunized against the illness, also known as pertussis.

The emergency legislation authored by Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, allows schools to conditionally enroll students for up to 30 days while their vaccination records are analyzed.

“This new law helps to get more young people vaccinated and gives school districts time to put together an immunization plan at their campuses,’' Kehoe said.

The spread of the disease hit San Diego County particularly hard last year, with more than 1,000 cases reported to county health officials, doubling the previous record. Two infants died.

Whooping cough can be prevented, or its effects limited, with a Tdap shot that also protects against tetanus and diphtheria.

Earlier this month, Kehoe said some school districts had proof of immunization for only 5 percent of their middle and high school students as of late June, citing figures from the California Association of School Business Officials.

The San Diego Unified School District reports a 52 percent immunization rate, but rates at some individual schools are as low as 10 percent, according to Kehoe.