Whooping cough vaccine to become mandatory for Illinois students

Beginning in the 2012-2013 school year, all students in the state of Illinois entering sixth and eighth grade must show proof of having received the whooping cough vaccination.

Children must now obtain the TDaP vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, which is another name for whooping cough. The TDaP vaccine is given to babies but has the possibility of wearing off, WJBC reports.

"Mostly because it's so contagious, and Illinois has had outbreaks recently in the Chicago area, now the state has taken the requirement to the state level," Kera Simon, a representative of the McLean County Health Department, said, according to WJBC. "Some children, if they were in a different state, or had a family member with whooping cough, maybe the family got vaccinated, those different instances can occur, so we ask parents to look at the immunization card."

Simon suggests that if parents can't find their immunization card, they should call their family doctor or primary health provider. Parents must prove that the vaccination against pertussis has been administered to schools with either a certificate of examination or a note from the doctor.

The health department is holding clinics between March and May for underinsured or uninsured students and students with a medical card.