By J.D. Velasco, Staff Writer | San Gabriel Valley Tribune | http://bit.ly/pNPNW7
Wilson High student Kevin Mendoza, 16, gets a Tdap shot during the last day to get a free vaccination at Los Altos High School in Hacienda Heights on Friday, Sept. 23, 2011. (Watchara Phomicinda / Staff)
Posted: 09/28/2011 04:31:13 PM PDT - Despite some dire predictions earlier this year, school districts in the San Gabriel Valley are so far reporting widespread compliance with state-mandated whooping cough vaccinations.
According to state law, all students in grades 7 through 12 must be vaccinated for whooping cough within the first 30 days of the school year. Parents who have a personal objection to vaccinations can request a waiver.
State law originally required students to be vaccinated before even setting foot in a classroom this year, but concerns from education officials led the state legislature in July to grant the 30-day extension.
"The bottom line is we really want to keep kids healthy, safe and in school," said Linda Davis-Aldritt, school nurse consultant for the California Department of Education. "(But) if they have not complied, then they do need to be excluded."
Davis-Alldritt said the state won't have receive official figures about vaccinations until December, but she said she's heard so far has been encouraging.
"Anecdotally, I'm hearing good news from around the state," she said. "I think the picture is pretty good."
Locally, officials from several school districts, including Bonita Unified and Rowland Unified, said they have reached 100 percent compliance among their students.
Lois Klein, assistant superintendent of educational services at Bonita Unified, said the vaccination clinics sponsored by the district helped.
"Part of it is because of the clinics," Klein said. "(But) a big piece of it was a very proactive cooperative communication with parents."
Other school districts, such as Bassett Unified, Baldwin Park Unified and Walnut Valley Unified, haven't achieved 100 percent compliance, but are very close.
Bassett Unified Superintendent Marty Galindo said as of Tuesday, the district only had one student left who need to be vaccinated.
"We kicked butt on this," he said. "(Our staff) did an awesome job."
A few school districts are still dealing with quite a few stragglers.
Azusa Unified still had about 40 students out of about 10,900 who need vaccinations, said spokeswoman Kathleen Miller on Monday.
Charter Oak Superintendent Mike Hendricks said his district, has more outreach to do.
"I believe district-wide we have ... just a little over a hundred," Hendricks said.
West Covina Unified has about 170 who are still unvaccinated. It will reach its deadline on Monday, officials said.
But even these larger numbers of unvaccinated students are small when compared to the total student population of school districts.
El Monte Union High School District's 200-or-so unvaccinated students represent less than 2 percent of the district's total enrollment.
"We're very fortunate," said. El Monte Union Superintendent Nick Salerno.