After a record amount of whooping cough cases reported in California this past year, a new piece of legislation will require middle and high school students to be up to date on their vaccinations before they can begin school next fall. For more information on this development and what it may mean for you, keep on reading after the jump.

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The requirement for children to be vaccinated before school starts is not a new thing. In fact, many children are already vaccinated for whooping cough. However, in the wake of a serious outbreak of the illness in California this year, they state is now requiring kids still in school to be current on their vaccinations.

Starting in Fall 2011, kids who are starting school in 7-12th grades must show proof that they have received their TDAP booster shot or else they won’t be allowed to start school. The vaccine is normally given to infants and then again before children start kindergarten, but the vaccine begins to lose its effectiveness after 10 years, which is why lawmakers and health care professionals are targeting this age group.

Whooping cough, also called pertussis, is a highly contagious bacterial respiratory infection. In more adults, symptoms are hardly more severe than a common cold, but the infection can be fatal in infants and young children. More than 80% of all infants contract whopping cough from their parents, siblings, or other caregivers. Symptoms include running nose and wheezing, along with coughing fits in which the sufferer may make a “whooping’ sound as they gasp for air between coughs.

More than 7,800 cases of whooping cough were reported in California this year with 10 infant deaths, the most since the 1940s. Michigan and Ohio have also been dealing with smaller, yet uncommon, outbreaks of the illness. Some health care professionals attribute the rise in whopping cough cases to the anti-vaccination movement that urges parents to avoid most vaccinations for their children due to their believed negative side effects.

Whatever the reason for the whooping cough outbreak, California is taking things seriously, and if you have a child who is getting ready to start either middle or high school, be sure to put their immunization records in a safe place.

What do you think of California requiring children in grade 7-12 to get their whooping cough boosters before they can start school? Do you think it should be up to the parent whether or not they get their child immunized, or should states be allowed to require them after an outbreak? Let us know by leaving us some comments, and be sure to check out this video on whooping cough vaccinations below.