Illinois issues Tdap requirement for students

Students in Illinois will need to show proof that they received at least one dose of Tdap, the combined tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis vaccine, starting with the next school year.

Lamar Hasbrouck, the director of the Illinois Department of Health, issued a letter to parents earlier this month that all junior and senior high school students in grades six through 12 will need vaccine proof by the fall of 2013. Hasbrouck said that most of the students may have already received the vaccine and simply need to provide verifying documentation from their family health care provider, according to Ankeny Patch.

The reason for the requirement is the continual spread of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, throughout Illinois communities. The disease can also be fatal in infants. Vaccination against pertussis can reduce illness and absenteeism and protect those too young to be fully vaccinated.

Students who do not receive adequate proof of vaccination by the beginning of the school year will be subject to exclusion.

Earlier this month, the Iowa Public Health Department issued a similar requirement to students enrolling in seventh grade or higher in the fall, Ankeny Patch reports.

Such requirements can be effective, as seen after a vaccination requirement was implemented in San Diego County, California, in July 2011. The county went from 1,179 cases in 2010 to 400 cases in 2011. In 2012, the county registered just 145 whooping cough cases, Scoop San Diego reports.