Hundreds of students in San Mateo County and thousands across California have yet to get the whooping cough vaccine mandated by the state, forcing some to stay home from school. Dozens more have refused it on philosophical grounds.
A state law passed last year requires seventh- through 12th-graders to get the vaccine by the start of the school year. The deadline was later pushed back 30 days and some schools have received additional extensions.
There is no firm tally of unvaccinated kids, but as of last Friday, eight districts reported 617 such students, San Mateo County health officer Dr. Scott Morrow said. The county has about 25 districts.
Students who do not receive shots by their school’s deadline — which in some cases has passed and in others won’t arrive until mid-October — will probably be asked to stay home until vaccinated.
On the other hand, Ravenswood City School District was one of the few districts with virtually perfect compliance, with just one student lacking the vaccine as of last week.
Some parents also oppose the vaccine on philosophical grounds.
"Some parents choose not to have their children vaccinated due to unfounded concerns about vaccine safety," Jan Ogar of the San Mateo County Health Department wrote in an email.
Nearly 60 students in eight districts surveyed opted out of the vaccine, with just a few of those citing medical reasons.
Pertussis was added to the list of required vaccines earlier this year following a mutation and a spike in cases, according to the California Department of Public Health.
A small study released earlier this week by Dr. David Witt of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Rafael called into question whether the vaccine, which health officials recommend be given multiple times beginning at birth, is at all effective after three years.
Number of San Mateo County students who lack whooping cough vaccinations as of Sept. 23: