LAUSD administrators were scrambling Wednesday, and have been for the last several days trying to make sure they have the documentation they need from their students to prove that students have been vaccinated for whooping cough. Here at Huntington Park High School early this morning LAUSD district nurses were here vaccinating dozens of students.
"We identified 200 students and we called them in, we pulled them out of class, we summoned them out of class in an orderly fashion," said Huntington Park High School Principal Lupe Hernandez. "They were vaccinated and they went back into class. And that's exactly what we want. We are really trying to facilitate this process so students will get the vaccination and get into class."
Hernandez says she has until Thursday at noon to either collect proof of vaccination cards or consent forms from another 900 students on the year-round track at Huntington Park High School.
Classes started Tuesday and many students and their families had no idea about the new law requiring booster shots for protection against whooping cough, also known as pertussis.
Whooping cough can be fatal in very young children. The symptoms are similar to those in colds, however whooping cough is very contagious and can be passed to others through droplets with an infected cough or sneeze. In older kids and adults the cough can last as long as three months. Hand-washing is a must but vaccination is best.
"It's a problem that leads to significant absenteeism from school and from work," said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, Los Angeles County Dept. of Public Health. "It's no fun. And you can have coughs that can last three months or even longer. And again we've had four children, four very small infants, die last year in Los Angeles County with this. And it's a totally vaccine-preventable disease."
The new law went into effect July 1. It requires students in 7th through 12th grades to provide proof that they have been vaccinated for whooping cough.
This Saturday Gage Middle School in Huntington Park will have nurses vaccinating students free of charge from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
School administrators want parents to be aware that if their kids students do not provide either proof of documentation or a consent form they will be excluded from class.