NATOMAS, CA – Natomas school officials are going door to door with a traveling nurse to give whooping cough shots to unvaccinated students.
A new state law requires students entering seventh through 12th grades to get vaccinated against the disease by the start of the 2011-12 school year.
The legislature gave districts 30 days beyond the start of the school year to make sure all students were vaccinated or had a formal exemption filed by their parents or guardians.
As the deadline passes, thousands of students remain unvaccinated. Many school districts have been defying state law and allowing them on campus.
But not anymore in Natomas.
District Student Services Director Heyman Matlock has been driving door to door to find unvaccinated students. Despite warnings and several free clinics, dozens of students haven’t been inoculated.
“There could be some family dynamics where they’re having hardships in the house and this isn’t a top priority in them making it day to day,” Matlock said.
District superintendent Walt Hanline, who made the decision to allow unvaccinated students on campus, said the law forced school officials to make a difficult choice.
“The state law said I couldn’t have these children on campus, but the state law also said I have to educate children,” Hanline said.
By 4 p.m. Friday, officials had visited a dozen homes and vaccinated six students, whose parents were home to give permission.
The group will continue to go door to door until they can reach all the students.
Beginning Monday, students who haven’t been vaccinated will not be allowed on campus.
District officials said they’ll continue making home visits until every child is accounted for and able to go back in the classroom.
By Natalie Sentz, firstname.lastname@example.org