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Vaccines Help Protect Students from Whooping Cough and other Serious Diseases

Back to school shopping is just one priority for parents.  Another is making sure kids are caught up on their vaccinations. Many schools report that the biggest gap in school immunizations is with the Tdap – a vaccine that boosts protection against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) is required for entry into the sixth grade. Tdap is especially important in helping to prevent outbreaks of whooping cough. In July the Madison Metropolitan School District sent 1,200 letters to parents of incoming 6th graders who still needed their Tdap boosters.  Other districts in the county will be taking similar actions over the next couple of months.
 There are compelling reasons to make sure that your kids are caught up on their immunizations, especially with Tdap vaccine.  According to Diane McHugh, RN Immunization Specialist for PHMDC (Public Health – Madison and Dane County) “whooping cough is particularly hard on kids.  While it looks like a common cold in the beginning, severe coughing soon follows. Even with treatment, extreme coughing fits may last several weeks. 10-14 year olds are often most frequently affected.” In 2012, Dane County reported 588 cases of whooping cough.  While the number went down to 115 cases last year, the potential for another outbreak exists, particularly if kids are not getting vaccinated. 
Today’s childhood vaccines protect against such serious and potentially life-threatening diseases as polio, measles, as well as whooping cough.  Children who are 4 to 6 years old are due for boosters of four vaccines: DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), chickenpox, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and polio. Older children, like preteens and teens, need Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), meningococcal and HPV. Flu vaccine, for anyone 6 months and older is a very good addition to the protective umbrella provided by these great disease preventers. 
Parents can look up their child’s immunization record by clicking here and going to the Wisconsin Immunization Registry online or by calling their healthcare provider.
Information on free vaccines for children with MA or BadgerCare or without health insurance from PHMDC.  To make an appointment, call (608) 266-4821.
More information about vaccines from the CDC



  • Jeff Golden, Public Health Madison Dane County, (608) 243-0302
Health & Safety