The state of California has a new law requiring all students entering 7th through 12th grades to have a Tdap booster shot before starting school. Without proof of such a shot having been administered, the child is excluded from attending school from day one of the 2011-12 school year. In 2010, there was a whooping cough "epidemic" in California, with 910 cases reported by the time the school year ended in June, including three deaths of infants down in Southern California. By the end of 2010, a total of 10 infants died from whooping cough. From what I understand, most likely got the disease through exposure from a sibling who was in a day care or school setting in younger grades.
I get it. I really do. By forcing everyone of that age to get the booster, at a cost that surely must be about a billion dollars, the state hopes to prevent a similar "epidemic" and loss of life. A billion dollars in vaccinations, doctor and clinic visits, parental time off from work, local school district administration in notifying and verifying families, and state oversight of the whole thing. A billion dollars.
My feeling on this leaves me open to the accusation that I am acting the part of the Ford Motor Company and its whole Pinto fiasco. At best, Ford decided to forgo an $11 repair for each Pinto because a cost-benefit analysis indicated that it would be cheaper to pay off any lawsuits as a result of gas tank explosion injuries and deaths. About two million cars times $11 equals $22 million. At least 27 people died as a result of that defect. Many more were injured.
That $22 million seems completely reasonable. The billion dollars for the Tdap booster? Sorry, I am heartless, but that seems ludicrous. I come to that tentative conclusion because it seems the state is also barking up the wrong tree. These teens are far less likely to come into contact with non-vaccinated infants than the kids in elementary school, who are still covered under their initial vaccinations. I'd spend more time and money and energy and resources on not allowing so many people to opt out with Personal Belief Exemptions for the initial vaccines.
Yes, I'll be getting the kids their boosters. Although I might be tempted to opt out just on principle by filling out exemptions for Eldest and Daughter, I happen to be one of those parents who keeps her kids vaccinations up to date. Maybe I'll get them vaccinated but still fill out the exemption form. Or maybe I'll see how the school district plans to handle the loss of ADA (Average Daily Attendance) funds and we'll all get one last good vacation in after school begins. No shot, no school. I think my kids could rally behind that.