Thousands Of Bay Area School Children Still Need Whooping Cough Shots

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HollyQuan20100908_KCBS_0017r Holly Quan
Holly was born and raised in Oakland and she graduated from San...
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CBS SF Bay (con't)

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Thousands of middle and high school students in Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco still haven’t gotten their mandatory whooping cough vaccination, even though the deadline to get the shot has already passed in some school districts.

Parents have until 30 days from the start of classes to demonstrate their children have been immunized against a highly contagious disease that reached record levels last year. There 9,000 reported cases of whooping cough in 2010, the highest since 1947.

The law passed in October initially required all students entering grades seven through 12 to get vaccinated by the start of the 2011-2012 school year. Lawmakers passed a 30-day extension this summer as districts worried many students wouldn’t meet the deadline.

Officials at the Bay Area’s three largest school districts have been chasing down stragglers so that thousands of kids are not barred from class.

“It’s just not on parents’ radar, and it’s an extra process,” said Heidi Anderson, spokeswoman for the San Francisco Unified School District.

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

When San Francisco’s deadline arrived Thursday, some 2,000 kids had yet to show proof of vaccination. Anderson estimated at least 80 percent of the student body have gotten their shots.

“We have several thousand forms that haven’t been entered into our system, so we’re thinking it’s more like 90 percent,” she said.

Several San Francisco schools held vaccine clinics on Thursday, and students who showed up to school the next day without proof of immunization were handed a list of clinics offering the vaccination.

“You have to call your doctor, you have to go to a clinic, you have to get the shot, you have to get the form, and you have to bring it into school. It’s several steps for parents, and we know they’re busy,” Anderson said.

Oakland kids still have until the end of the month. School officials there hoped to catch most of the 1,000 in grades 7 through 12 that still need shots at a vaccine clinic on Friday.

Only 143 of the 14,500 middle and high school students in the San Jose Unified School District have yet to get their shots.

District spokeswoman Karen Fuqua said four teams of nurses were going campus to campus on Friday to track down the stragglers.

“We really have a great process, a great group of nurses that really are just very dogged about making sure our kids are healthy,” Fuqua said.

No statewide estimates of the number of students turned away is available because districts are not required to report their final vaccination tally until December, state education officials said.

Under California law, students also can still attend if their parents file a form saying they oppose vaccines.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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