IDPH requires secondary school students receive immunization against pertussis


January 16th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), Bureau of Immunization, say the tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine for students enrolling in seventh grade, will be required,  beginning with the 2013-2014 school year. The new requirement became effective today (Wednesday). 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 September 15, 2000. IDPH Immunization Program Manager Bethany Kintigh says “The secondary school vaccine requirement will help Iowa achieve and maintain high vaccination adolescent coverage levels while reducing the number of pertussis cases occurring annually.”

Pertussis or whooping cough is caused by Bordetella pertussis and 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. Children receive pertussis-containing vaccine beginning at two months of age, and are recommended to get a booster dose at 11 or 12 years of age.

The National Immunization Survey (NIS) Teen, 2011 results indicates 74.7 percent of Iowa adolescents 13-17 years have received the Tdap vaccine compared to the national average of 78.2 percent. If you have an incoming seventh grader that hasn’t received the Tdap vaccine, now is a great time to make an appointment with your child’s health care provider.