By Law, California 7th-12th Graders Must Receive Whooping Cough Vaccine by July 2011

AB 354: The New 7th – 12th Grade California Immunization Law
California Department of Public Health, Immunization Branch

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.

Starting July 2011, a new law (AB 354) changing California immunization requirements for all students entering 7th-12th grades goes into effect. The law requires:

  • This coming school year (2011-2012), all students entering into 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th or 12 th grades will need proof of an adolescent whooping cough booster shot (called “Tdap”) before starting school.
  • For the next school year (2012-13) and future school years, all students entering into 7th grade only will need proof of a Tdap shot to start school.

This law includes current students, new students and transfer students in both public and private schools.

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).

  • 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.

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.

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.

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.

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: Some local pharmacies and Health Departments may also offer the Tdap vaccine.

Are immunization exemptions allowed under California law? The same exemptions for children entering kindergarten apply. For more information, visit the Immunization Law page at

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