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Get up to speed on back-to-school vaccinations

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Get up to speed on back-to-school vaccinations

A new law also requires students entering the seventh grade to get a whooping cough booster shot.

209 Well & Wellness file photo/

POSTED July 31, 2013 8:17 p.m.

Summer fun is in full swing, but the time to return to the classroom is lurking just around the corner and with it a schedule of required vaccinations.

Under the California School Immunization Law, children are required to receive vaccinations for certain diseases before they are allowed to attend public and private schools, day care centers and developmental centers.

By the time a child enters kindergarten or transitional kindergarten, they need to have been immunized against: Polio, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Hepatitis B, and Varicella, more commonly known as chickenpox.

“As a parent myself, I know how difficult it is to remember everything you need to do to get your child ready for school,” said California Department of Public Health Dr. Ron Chapman. “Putting vaccinations at the top of the list ensures your child can be enrolled on time and with the best protection from diseases throughout the school year.”

A new law also requires students entering the seventh grade to get a whooping cough booster shot. The law was enacted after the state began to see a spike in whooping cough cases and multiple infant deaths from the disease.

“I call on all parents to act as soon as possible and ensure their children receive this important vaccination,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in a released statement about the booster shot. “Taking a few minutes now will help protect your child’s health, and help them get off to a smooth start in the next school year.”

California’s vaccine law does allow for two types of exemptions. One is based on medical reasons and requires a doctor to issue a written statement as to why the child needs a medical exemption from a particular vaccine.

The second exemption is based on personal beliefs. Schools have their own procedures for dealing with these exemptions. In 2014, a new state law will modify the process of obtaining an exemption based on personal beliefs and will require documentation that health care practitioners have informed parents about the vaccines and the potentially deadly consequences of going without.

Vaccines can be found through most primary care physicians. If a parent cannot afford the vaccine or does not have insurance, the California Vaccines for Children Program can help. The federally-funded program provides free vaccines to children who qualify. To find a VFC provider, visit

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