SAN JOSE (KCBS) – Across the state, schools are sending a clear message to parents:  if you have a son or daughter going into middle or high school next year, make sure they get vaccinated for whooping cough.

California has mandated that public schools make sure students in 7th to 12th grade be vaccinated against whooping cough, but it seems relatively few families are actually getting the shot.

KCBS’ Matt Bigler Reports: 

“About 30 percent of our kids have it, but  the rest don’t,” said district health director Melinda Landau. Landau said students without a record of the vaccination will not be able to attend classes in the fall.

California had its worst epidemic of pertussis last year in 63 years, with 10 infant deaths.  Deputy Health Officer Dr. Sarah Cody said adolescents need to be immunized because their childhood booster shots have worn off.

“So the strategy is to protect that group of kids who we know are most likely to be unprotected from this disease,” said Cody.

Vaccines are available through a family doctor, at county health offices and at some drug stores.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)