New requirement for secondary school students to receive immunization against pertussis
The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), Bureau of Immunization will require tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine for students enrolling in seventh grade beginning with the 2013-14 school year. The new requirement became effective Jan. 16, 2013.
The change will require a one-time booster dose of Tdap vaccine for students enrolling in grades seven and up, if born on or after Sept. 15, 2000. The secondary school vaccine requirement will help Iowa achieve and maintain high adolescent vaccination coverage levels while reducing the number of pertussis cases occurring annually.
Washington County Public Health will be partnering with IDPH and all middle schools in the county to provide the Tdap vaccine free of charge for all interested middle school students later this spring.
Pertussis, or whooping cough, causes epidemics every three to five years. In 2012, 1,647cases of pertussis were reported to IDPH, a 417 percent increase in cases compared to the average of the previous five years. The majority of cases occurred in children 10-14 years of age.
Pertussis can cause serious illness in infants, children and adults. The disease starts like the common cold, with runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and sometimes a mild cough or fever which is followed by severe coughing. Pertussis can cause violent and rapid coughing, over and over, until the air is gone from the lungs and you are forced to inhale with a “whooping" sound. While treatment with antibiotics will prevent an individual diagnosed with pertussis from spreading the disease, the cough may continue to last for weeks.
“Many students have already received the Tdap vaccine and simply need to provide proof to the school,” said Traci Shirkey, Washington County Public Health nurse. “If your incoming seventh-grader hasn’t received the Tdap vaccine, now is a great time to make an appointment with your child’s health care provider or consider attending a school-based clinic this spring.”