Health and Fitness

Whooping Cough Cases Increasing in Illinois

New school whooping cough immunization requirement reminder for National Immunization Awareness Month

SPRINGFIELD–(ENEWSPF)–August 2, 2012.  Health care providers are reporting a large increase in the number of pertussis cases, commonly called whooping cough, in Illinois and across the country. To kick-off National Immunization Awareness Month this August, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reminding parents and health care providers of the new pertussis immunization requirement for the 2012-2013 school year.

All sixth- and ninth-grade students are now required to show proof of receiving Tdap vaccine, an immunization against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Students must either show proof of having received this vaccination, must have an appointment to get the vaccine or have an approved medical or religious exemption on file. Students who do not, will not be allowed to attend school.

“This new requirement for sixth- and ninth- graders comes at a time when we are seeing a substantial increase in whooping cough cases,” said IDPH Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. “Medical experts have found whooping cough has been on the rise in pre-teens and teens, indicating a waning immunity from infant and childhood immunizations. To combat this, Illinois now requires all incoming sixth- and ninth-grade students to receive a Tdap booster shot.”

A gradual and sustained increase in pertussis has been observed in the United States after reaching historic lows in the 1970s. Nationally, year-to-date case counts from 2012 have surpassed those from the previous five years for the same period. In 2011, health care providers reported 1,509 pertussis cases to IDPH for the entire year. With five months still to go in the year, providers have already reported approximately 1,200 cases of pertussis.

Examples of recent outbreak activity in the U.S. include the declaration of a pertussis epidemic in Washington – reporting 3,180 cases through July 21, 2012, compared to a total of 965 cases in 2011; Wisconsin reported 3,169 cases as of July 16, 2012, compared to 1,192 cases in 2011; and Minnesota is experiencing high rates of pertussis – reporting 1,758 cases as of June 30, 2012, compared to 661 pertussis cases reported in 2011.

Vaccination continues to be the single most effective strategy to reduce illness, and even death, caused by pertussis and other vaccine preventable diseases.

During National Immunization Awareness Month, check with your health care provider about your vaccinations, and those of your child, to make sure you are up-to-date on immunizations.

Parents or health care providers wanting to inform other parents or health care providers of the new Tdap school requirement, can find ready-to-print posters on our website, as well as other immunization information.