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New requirement for secondary school students to receive immunization against pertussis

March 30, 2013

The Iowa Department of Public Health, Bureau of Immunization will require tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine for students enrolling in seventh grade beginning with the 2013-2014 school year.

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.

"Many students have already received the Tdap vaccine and simply need to provide proof to the school," said Pat Thompson, Marshall 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."

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 Teen, 2011 results indicate 74.7 percent of Iowa adolescents 13-17 years have received the Tdap vaccine compared to the national average of 78.2 percent. The adolescent Tdap immunization rate for Marshall County is 59 percent according to the 2011 Iowa Department of Public Health Marshall County Immunization Assessment.

For more information about pertussis, including the Iowa Pertussis Update, visit



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