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Pertussis Shot Required for 6th-, 9th-Graders

New state rule designed to combat whooping cough outbreaks that have occurred annually in schools since 2010, Will County Health Department Says.

In response to the pertussis/whooping cough outbreaks of the last two years, all sixth- and ninth-grade students will have to provide proof they've received a booster vaccine when enrolling for the 2012-13 school year.

The Will County Health Department put out the notice this week to alert parents to the state change that requires students at those two grade levels to have one dose of the tentanus/diptheria/pertussis (Tdap) booster vaccine.

Any student who fails to the get shot will not be allowed to attend school, the health department news release said.

Last December, reported in Will County involved residents.

Whooping cough/pertussis is a potentially dangerous bacterial disease that's spread easily from person-to-person through coughing and sneezing. The disease can cause illnesses lasting for weeks or months, and can be life-threatening to infants and people with chronic medical conditions, the release said.

Pertussis is one of the 14 infectious diseases covered in the standard vaccine immunization schedule recommended for children during infancy and at kindergarten entry. However, the vaccine's effectiveness diminishes over time, which is why the Tdap booster is now required for adolescents.

While only sixth- and ninth-graders must have proof of the vaccine, the booster is recommended for students in grades six through 12, the release said. Licensed in 2005, Tdap is the first vaccine for pre-teens, adolescents and adults that protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

Children who have already received Tdap will not need a second dose. Parents are urged to check with their immunization provider to make sure their child has received the vaccine, the release said.

For more information about the new vaccination requirement, call 815-740-8143. For questions about immunization services provided by the health department, go to www.willcountyhealth.org, email info@willcountyhealth.org, or call 815-740-8143.   

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