All current sixth-grade students will be vaccinated this spring
By STEPH TAHTINEN
Mt. Pleasant News
All Iowa children going into seventh grade next year will be receiving a Tdap (tetanus diphtheria and pertussis) vaccine as part of a new requirement from the Iowa Department of Public Health.
“It is a requirement for any child going into seventh grade next year, and then it will grandfather in for years after that,” Travis Johnson, community health director, explained to the board of health during its regular meeting on Thursday.
Information on the new requirement came out last fall, but IDPH is releasing more information and spreading the word now that the requirement became effective on Jan. 16.
The change requires a one-time booster dose of Tdap vaccine for students enrolling in grades seven and up, if born on or after Sept. 15, 2000. This requirement is in effect regardless of the interval since the last tetanus/diphtheria containing vaccine.
“Regardless of when they had their last tetanus, if they had a tetanus/diphtheria shot, they will get a booster including the pertussis vaccine,” said Johnson.
Although the tetanus/diphtheria vaccine does not always include pertussis, Johnson noted that it has become standard practice for Henry County public health.
“Our stance has been that by default pertussis is included,” said Johnson, noting that it could be excluded if needed, such as due to health reasons.
“For the first year, all of that vaccine is being covered by the state. That is not a vaccine that we have to buy,” said Johnson. “They’re going to give it to us, and we will administer it at no cost to the children.”
The public health department will be visiting the county’s schools to vaccinate students, most likely starting in late February and finishing by April.
“We will be doing clinics in all of the schools. We are working with the school nurses and will be sending our staff to the schools and targeting the sixth graders that will be next year’s seventh graders,” said Johnson.
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, cases epidemics every three to five years. In 2012, there were 1,647 cases of pertussis reported to IDPH, which is an increase of 417 percent compared to the average of the past five years. Most cases happened in children between 10 and 14 years old.
According to a press release from IDPH, children receive pertussis-containing vaccine beginning at the age of two months. It is recommended that a booster be given at 11 or 12 years of age.
However, Johnson said there is also a push for adults to be vaccinated against pertussis as well.
“That is part of our program now going forward with our immunization program is increasing adult vaccinations,” said Johnson “Pertussis is one of the big ones.”
Johnson also noted it is now recommended that women receive a pertussis vaccination with each pregnancy.
In other business, the board of health:
• Appointed Bob Welander as chair, Rose Lauer as vice-chair and Tom Miller as secretary.
• Heard an update from Environmental Health Coordinator Jodi Sutter, including a review of her fiscal year 2014 budget. Revenues are listed at $96,169 and expenditures are listed at $81,600.