WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

Walgreens partners with CPS and CDPH to increase pertussis vaccinations

Walgreens, a U.S. drug store chain, announced a partnership on Tuesday with Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Department of Public Health to help parents meet a new pertussis vaccination requirement.

The team will assist parents of students between grades six and 12 to meet a new Illinois state requirement for Tdap vaccination, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Pertussis is more commonly known as whooping cough.

The new Illinois mandate follows a significant increase in the number of whooping cough cases over the last two years in the state. Students must show proof of having received a single dose of the Tdap vaccine or have an approved religious or medical exemption on file by October 15.

"In Chicago, more cases of whooping cough were reported last year than in the prior three years combined," Julie Morita, the medical director for the CDPH Immunization Program, said. "Making sure that children receive the Tdap vaccine is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their children. When our students are healthier our classrooms, schools and communities will be healthier."

Walgreens, CDPH and CPS are building on a collaborative health initiative formed to battle flu last year. The organizations will increase awareness about the Tdap vaccine through several events before the start of the school year on Monday. The events include Walgreens and CDPH hosting immunization clinics throughout the city, Walgreens pharmacists visiting select CPS locations to administer vaccines to students in need and the CDPH Care Van touring parks, schools and businesses to offer free mobile immunization clinics.

"Walgreens is playing an important role in helping to prevent this serious illness providing greater access to vaccine in the Chicago area and throughout Illinois," Harry Leider, the chief medical officer Walgreens, said. "We have more than 600 points of care statewide including our pharmacies and healthcare clinics that routinely offer the Tdap vaccine and other immunizations year-round. Access to this and other vaccines as well as out-of-pocket costs are barriers for many families and through this collaboration with CDPH and CPS we're focused on making the back-to-school season easier while helping more students and their families get stay and live well."

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, there were 2,026 cases of whooping cough reported in Illinois in 2012, the highest number of cases since 1950.