Iowa has new whooping cough booster requirement

The Iowa Department of Public Health Bureau of Immunization will require tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine for students enrolling in seventh grade beginning with the 2013-2014 school year.

The change will require a one-time booster dose of Tdap vaccine for students enrolling in grades seven and up if they were born on or after Sept. 15, 2000. The secondary school vaccine requirement will help Iowa achieve and maintain high adolescent vaccination coverage levels while reducing the number of pertussis cases occurring annually.

“Many students have already received the Tdap vaccine and simply need to provide proof to the school,” said Kari Prescott, Webster County Health Department. “If your incoming seventh-grader hasn’t received the Tdap vaccine, now is a great time to make an appointment with your child’s health care provider.”

Pertussis – or whooping cough – is caused by Bordetella pertussis and causes epidemics every three to five years. In 2012, 1,647 cases of pertussis were reported to IDPH, a 417 percent increase in cases compared to the average of the previous five years. The majority of cases occurred in children 10 to 14 years of age.

Pertussis can cause serious illness in infants, children and adults. The disease starts like the common cold, with runny nose or congestion, sneezing, and sometimes a mild cough or fever. It is followed by severe coughing. Pertussis can cause violent and rapid coughing, over and over, until the air is gone from the lungs and you are forced to inhale with a “whooping” sound. While treatment with antibiotics will prevent an individual diagnosed with pertussis from spreading the disease, the cough can last for weeks.

Children receive pertussis-containing vaccine beginning at two months of age, and are recommended to get a booster dose at 11 or 12 years of age. The National Immunization Survey Teen 2011 results indicate 74.7 percent of Iowa adolescents 13 to 17 years old have received the Tdap vaccine, compared to the national average of 78.2 percent.

The adolescent Tdap immunization rate for Webster County is 54 percent.

The immunization requirements chart from the Iowa Administrative Code, Chapter 7, Immunization and Immunization and Immunization Education is available at

For more information about pertussis, including the Iowa Pertussis Update, visit