Beginning next school year there will be new immunization requirements for students in middle schools and high school. For the 2013 – 2014 school year, the Illinois State Board of Education requires all sixth through twelfth grade students to receive a Tdap booster shot, if they haven’t gotten one already. The immunization protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis – also known as whooping cough.
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“At the start of the current school year the state required sixth and ninth grade students to show proof of receiving a Tdap vaccine and so for the upcoming school year, the 2013-2014 school year, immunization requirements are expanding, so students in grades sixth through twelfth will now have to show proof of having received the vaccine,” said ISBE spokeswoman Amanda Simhauser. She says proof of immunization can be a signed doctor’s note, a printout from a provider or a certificate of health examination that specifies the date of the Tdap shot. Whooping cough has been on the rise over the past six years, one reason for the requirements according to Dr. Craig Conover, medical director at the Illinois Department of Public Health. “Last year we had close to 2,000 cases which is more than we’ve had in any recent previous year,” Conover said. “There [has] been a recommendation nationally that kids get vaccinated at age 11 or 12...we just want to make sure all the families follow through with this.” Conover believes about 80 – 85 percent of students in sixth or twelfth grade are vaccinated.