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Illinois requires 6th and 9th graders to get vaccination for whooping cough

The state of Illinois is requiring all children entering 6th and 9th grade to get a booster vaccination for whooping cough before they start school this year. State health officials say that’s because cases of pertussis--more commonly known as whooping cough--are on the rise. There have already been 1,243 reported cases of whooping cough so far this year, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Melaney Arnold, a spokeswoman for the department, said that puts the state on pace to have more reported cases than last year. In 2011, there were over 1,500 cases. Arnold said the number of cases of whooping cough has risen in the past few years and added there could be a couple of reasons to account for that.

“It’s difficult to say why exactly there is an increase. Some of it may be the waning immunity of the vaccine, the DTaP vaccine that children get, it wanes a little bit,” Arnold said.

Arnold said the vaccine starts to wear off at around 11 years of age. Health officials at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention are blaming that may big a big factor in the national resurgence of whooping cough.

Arnold said the best way to prevent the spread of whooping cough is to get the booster shot. Health officials also recommend practicing good “respiratory hygiene,” like using one’s hand or sleeve to cover a cough, and keeping children at home if they do get sick.  

Schools are requiring 6th and 9th graders--who are already required to get a physical before beginning the school year--to get the booster shot by October 15th.

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