An attempt to keep the state's students safe means an extra item for parents to check off before the start of the new school year: shots.


"Last year, we had an epidemic with whooping cough, which is also known as pertussis," said Peggy Lindsay, District Nurse for the Hesperia Unified School District. "So the state legislature wrote a new law that went into effect July 1 of this year."


Students entering the seventh through 12th grades this year are required to show the district proof that they've had a Tdap booster shot, which targets three infectious diseases: tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.


Although whooping cough is mostly a nuisance to healthy secondary students and adults, it kills an estimated 1 in 100 newborns and 1 in 200 infants up to a year old.


"We're missing 4,000 proof of shots," said Lindsay. "I'm not saying they're not shot, but we just don't have proof of it."


Even without the new law now in effect, the booster shot would have been a good idea anyway, she said.


"Most kids, at 7th grade, they need a booster, and this one is specially formulated to be stronger on the pertussis," Lindsay said. "That age is a tough group, because the parents have lost the shot records."


The HUSD has a supply of Tdap vaccine available, but it doesn't come close to the number of secondary students that may still not have gotten their required booster shot.


"We only have 1,500 doses," said Lindsay, "because that's all that will fit into our refrigerator."


For more information, including about shot clinics at various school sites, call (760) 244-4411, extensions 7267 or 7279.


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.