For the 2012-13 school year, all students entering sixth and ninth grades will be required to show proof that they have received a booster vaccination against pertussis, or whooping cough.
The Lake County Health Department said Illinois has seen a resurgence of whooping cough in recent years, with 175 cases in 2011 compared to just 10 cases in 2000.
According to the Lake County Health Department, most children are vaccinated against pertussis as infants. That protection wanes over time, however, leaving pre-teens, teenagers and adults at risk of contracting whooping cough. The state of Illinois is now requiring that all students entering sixth and ninth grades receive a booster shot for the illness.
Pertussis is transmitted through coughing and sneezing.
"We are encouraging parents not to wait until the last minute to get the vaccination for their sixth and ninth graders," said Irene Pierce, Executive Director of the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center. "Now is an ideal time to make an appointment. By summer, healthcare providers are traditionally very busy."
Proof of vaccination can include a note or letter signed by the physician, a print-out from the provider's electronic medical record system, or a Certificate of Child Health Examination with the date of the Tdap shot.
"We are asking Lake County residents to partner with us in protecting the health of our youth by getting their children vaccinated," said Pierce. "We have been alarmed by the increasing cases of whooping cough in this county. We would like to see this disease return to its previous low levels, but we need the community's help."
For more information on the new requirement, visit the health department's website or call (847) 377-8470.