The Illinois Department of Public Health wants to make it easier for parents to get their children vaccinated against whooping cough. Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill on Tuesday that allows Illinois children as young as age 10 to get vaccinated at pharmacies.
Before the new law, only children age 14 and older were allowed to get such shots from pharmacists. Parents were also required to take their children to a doctor’s office.
Quinn and state health officials said the law’s timing was crucial as children prepare to head back to school and as states, including Illinois, face a spike in whooping cough cases.
"Our kids are going back to school and we want them to get their shots so they are protected against very serious illnesses," Quinn said.
IDPH Director, Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, said whooping cough cases are expected to jump twenty-five percent this year but the new law should help. Hasbrouck noted that there are already 1,400 whooping cough cases so far this year compared to 1,500 cases for all of 2011.
“It’s still going to require a prescription or standing order from a physician, still gonna require some training in terms of vaccination administration and it’s still gonna require good record keeping,” said Hasbrouck, “but it’s going to be hugely successful in expanding the opportunities to vaccinate.”
Public health officials said they are seeing more outbreaks because children are less immune to whooping cough from age 10 to 13.