Tdap shots a must, officials say

Seventh-grade students are required now by the Iowa Department of Public Health to have a tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccine beginning with the 2013-14 school year.

Webster County Public Health offers the one-time Tdap booster, required for students enrolling in seventh grade this year who were born on or after Sept. 15, 2000.

In 2012, 1,647 cases of pertussis, or whooping cough, were reported to the 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.

“We’re thinking they need this booster dose at that age, which is seventh grade or approximately 13 years old,” said June Weiss, community wellness coordinator. “Hopefully, they’ve gone in for their 11- to 12-year-old adolescent update where we look at all their immunizations or should.”

According to Weiss, whooping cough is unpleasant.

“Whooping cough is a disease you get where you cough and cough for 21 days before you get over it,” she said. “The reason for it is, when you suck in your breath after you’ve coughed so long, all the air has gone out and the cough is just whooping.”

The vaccine is required for children, but recommended for adults, as well.

“They’re recommending all adults who have never had the Tdap medication, which is the tetanus booster with whooping cough in it, get that shot as a one-time adult immunization also because adults are getting whooping cough from the kids,” Weiss said. “If you’ve never had one since you’ve been an adult, over the age of 21, you probably need to get a booster dose of that. And then every 10 years after that you only need the tetanus booster.”

The administration of the vaccine is recorded in Iowa’s Immunization Registration Information System, Weiss said.

“When my kids come in here and get shots, I give them their shots and the same time I’m also entering them into the IRIS system, which immediately goes to their doctor, all schools, any health care providers in the United States,” she said. “Today, if I gave you this shot, in five seconds it would be on there for your doctor to see.”

Webster County Public Health will hold a Tdap clinic Aug. 13 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at its offices at 723 First Ave. S.

The IDPH immunization program provides Tdap vaccine for all adolescents through Sept. 30, regardless of insurance status. Webster County Public Health will continue to provide the one-time booster dose of Tdap to all adolescents who are not in compliance with the new school requirement.

“We do at least six immunization clinics a month for adults and children and we have what we call the Vaccine for Children program, put out by the Iowa Department of Health,” Weiss said. “It covers all children who are vaccine eligible. It’s free to those people who don’t have insurance.”

To schedule an appointment, contact Weiss at the Webster County Health Department, at 573-2222.