The Ottumwa Courier

March 7, 2013

Vaccine booster shot mandated for students

CINDY TOOPES
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — Notebook paper, pens, pencils and a vaccine?

Students enrolling in the seventh grade or higher for the 2013-14 school year will have to add the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine booster shot to their list of school supplies before they enter the classroom.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, state officials are requiring the shot for students who were born after Sept. 15, 2000.

Wapello County Public Health Clinical Director Lynelle Diers said Wednesday that her department is gearing up for distributing the vaccine to primarily seventh-grade students in Ottumwa, Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont and Cardinal school districts.

“It’s a new mandatory requirement because pertussis — also known as whooping cough — has been so rampant in the past 10 years,” Diers said.

During the past 10 years, state health officials have determined that if they mandate it and people receive the vaccination, the incident rate of whooping cough will drop.

Diers noted the IDPH staff determined seventh grade would be the first student group to receive the shot.

“Looking at the age, the last booster for students was somewhere after age 4,” Diers said. “So, seventh grade is the right age to get another booster.”

Also, when a woman becomes pregnant now, a lot of the obstetric doctors are recommending everyone who will be around the babies, especially newborns, should get the TDaP (Tetanus Diphtheria Acelular Pertussis) shot.

“Vaccines have changed a lot,” Diers said. “When I started in public health we gave three vaccinations — one for measles, mumps, rubella and polio.

Before the clinics start, the health department will get a large amount of TDaP vaccine and more vaccinations will be available, Diers added. She’s pleased the school districts are collaborating with health officials.

“Parents should look for a letter and consent form prior to the clinics,” she said. “If parents would please sign off so the student can get a vaccination, that would be greatly appreciated.”

Diers also noted families may also go to their own doctor to receive the shot.

For more information, contact Wapello County Public Health, 108 E. Main St., 641-682-5434.