It’s touted as the “New Rule for School.” Beginning this fall, students entering seventh grade at the Chester County Schools will be required to have a Tdap immunization. Without this vaccination, students may not be allowed to enroll in classes. “Whooping cough (pertussis) rates have risen to their highest levels since the late 1950s,” according to information from DHEC. “Beginning August 2013, this booster shot will be required for all seventh graders.” Chester County students and parents have already received this information in students’ report cards and through personal phone calls. Parents are also encouraged to receive this vaccination to help keep their families safe from whooping cough which is a serious, highly contagious disease caused by bacteria that can be especially dangerous for infants and children younger than five-years-old. Whooping cough is spread when people come into contact with the respiratory droplets of an infected person. It is very contagious and can spread, on average to 80 percent of those who come in contact with a sick person. The Tdap vaccine also protects children from tetanus and diphtheria and can be given regardless of when a person last received a tetanus shot or tetanus/diphtheria booster shot; there is no waiting period needed. JJ Paquin, a district school nurse, explained why it is vitally important that students be vaccinated with the Tdap vaccine.
“Obviously, the main reason they’re getting it is to protect younger children from whooping cough that can kill young children,” Paquin said. “The other reason is they can’t come to school without it and we want children in school.”
Most children, younger than six, have already received a series of shots to protect them from whooping cough but that protection normally wears off in five to 10 years. Because of this, older children, teens, and adults more likely to contract the infection and spread it to others. The school must receive a copy of a student’s most current immunization record including the date of the Tdap vaccine. Chester County Schools Superintendent Dr. Agnes Slayman also stressed the importance of this vaccine because the district wants all seventh graders enrolled in classes on time to stay on track with their academic careers.
“We do encourage parents to make sure students are vaccinated before school begins, so as not to miss any valuable classroom time,” she said. “The first days of school are so important for getting the year off to a great start.” For more information about the Tdap vaccine, visit www.scdhec.gov/scimmunize