Girl, 8, Kicked Out of School After Mom Refuses Whooping Cough Booster Shot

A third-grade student was kicked out of her Long Island school because her mother didn't want her to get a booster shot she was told by a doctor was unsafe for young children.

The 8-year-old girl's mother, Jamie McNicholas, told NBC 4 New York her daughter Ceili was expelled from Laddie A. Decker Sound Beach School, part of the Miller Place Union Free School District, Monday.

The school had told McNicholas her daughter could not return to class until she got the Tdap booster shot, a state-mandated shot for whooping cough that also protects against tetanus and diptheria. State education officials sent a letter to school district superintendents in March that outlined new health guidelines for students, including the Tdap booster requirement.

But McNicholas says her doctor told her the shot wasn't safe for kids younger than 10, and she thought her daughter, who is part of a small group of students who got their whooping cough vaccinations before the age of 4, should be exempt.

"I believe in vaccinations, and that's not the issue," McNicholas said. "The issue is an age-appropriate vaccination."

According to the FDA website, the Tdap booster shot is recommended only for children older than 10. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesperson, however, said it's safe for younger children.

The school district said it is following state education guidelines as to the use of the vaccine. The New York State Education Department said it's being guided by state health officials, and the state Health Department said it's decisions are based on CDC recommendations.

McNicholas is confused.

"Nobody will give you a straight answer," said McNicholas.

She has started an online petition calling on the state to make an exception for students like her daughter, who, meanwhile, is sad she can't go back to school and be with her friends.

"It breaks your heart. But do I sacrifice her health, possibly, just to get her into that building?"  

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