Hundreds of students in seventh through 12th grade could be prohibited from starting school in August unless they show proof of receiving Tdap, the booster shot for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, or whooping cough.
The deadline is Friday.
Only about half of Lodi Unified School District's middle school students have complied, according to Ivie Gonsalves, who oversees the district's health services department.
All students entering the seventh grade will need proof that they've received the booster shot. The requirement is for all students attending public or private schools. It does not, however, affect those enrolled in summer school.
"Of course we would like to be at 100 percent compliance, but we aren't there yet," Stockton Unified School District school nurse Tammy Evans said of San Joaquin County students. "We began developing plans to respond to this new law back in October. As a result of these early collaborative efforts, we have experienced a fairly good response."
In Stockton Unified, for example, students are at approximately 82 percent compliance rate, as of Monday. Countywide, the rate is lower at about 70 percent.
The figures are much lower in the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District. Like Lodi, only about half of the 960 middle school students have shown confirmation of the vaccination, according to school district nurse Marty Cuevas-Ortega.
Now that school is closed for the summer, parents can turn immunization documentation into their specific district office.
Lodi Unified Superintendent Cathy Nichols-Washer is meeting with principals this week to determine protocol for handling non-compliant students on the first day of school.
The Galt elementary district is offering free Tdap boosters in August, just before school begins.
Getting everyone immunized statewide is no easy task, as there are approximately 3 million students in seventh to 12th grade in California who need to be vaccinated. The most challenging age level to get the word out to has been high schoolers, according to officials.
Galt Joint Union High School District figures were unavailable.
This law was passed in response to the high number of people diagnosed with pertussis in California last year. Whooping cough, also called pertussis, is a highly contagious respiratory disease characterized by severe coughing fits.
In California last year, doctors reported 8,000 cases.
So far this year, there have been 1,428 confirmed cases reported to the California Department of Public Health, with just nine in San Joaquin County. The most severely hit county this year is San Diego, with 214 cases.
"To help prevent pertussis and ensure that their sevenththrough 12-graders will be allowed to attend school, parents need to call their child's doctor now to make an appointment to receive the vaccine, and documentation must be provided to the child's school ASAP," said Evans, who is working with the California School Nurses Organization and GlaxoSmithKline to get the word out to parents that they need to get this done now.
She said Friday's deadline will be strictly enforced and students will not be allowed on public school campuses after that, including sports and other school-sponsored activities.
"(They) will be sent home on the first day of school if they have not submitted documentation that they received the Tdap booster shot. Once documentation has been provided, students will be allowed to start school," Evans said.
However, parents can opt not to have their children vaccinated for personal or religious reasons.
Private health care providers have reported a wait of up to three weeks for a vaccination appointment, but the county public health department provides immunization clinics in Lodi. For more information, call 800-839-4949 or visit www.sjcphs.org/Clinic/clinical_services.htm.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.