NEW: Brown signs whooping cough immunization extension

Gov. Jerry Brown signed Monday legislation that would provide parents and districts an additional 30 days to meet the pertussis vaccinations deadline.

SB 614 by state Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, gives school districts 30 days after the start of the school year to verify that all 7th-12th graders have received an immunization shot for pertussis or whooping cough.

The legislation extends a deadline created by a former bill passed in January that would have forced schools to dis-enroll all 7th-12th graders who hadn't received the Tdap booster shot by the beginning of the 2011-12 school year.

Public school advocates scrambled to get the legislation through the state house after reports from the field indicated that potentially tens of thousands of students would be turned away because of the requirement.

Reports out of Los Angeles earlier this month, suggested that most of the 8,700 students beginning a new academic year on July 5 at five Los Angeles Unified campuses were unable to provide proof they had been vaccinated. Similar stories were circulated from other parts of the state.

Although lawmakers were sympathetic to the challenge facing districts, they shot down a prior version of the bill that would have given a six month extension.

State health officials say the threat from the disease remains significant. Through the middle of July, there have been nearly 2,000 cases of whooping cough reported this year - nearly equal to the epidemic pace from last year.

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