New State Vaccination Requirements for Students Entering 6th Grade

BINGHAMTON, NY - Children entering 6th grade in the fall who are 11 years of age or older must receive a booster shot of Tdap, a vaccine that protects against tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (whooping cough). Tdap is available through most physician offices, as well as the Broome County Health Department's immunization Clinics. To help parents meet the new statewide requirement, the Broome County Health Department is expanding its immunization clinic hours on July 25 and August 8 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:20 p.m. by appointment. Parents and guardians that wish to schedule an appointment for their child(ren) should call 607.778.2839.

Widespread outbreaks of pertussis continue to occur in the United States. In 2004 in New York State there were 2,163 confirmed cases compared to 1,088 cases the year before. In 2003 there were 5 confirmed cases in Broome County; in 2004 that number increased to 111.

Pertussis immunity from early childhood vaccinations wears off, leaving adolescents and adults susceptible to the disease. Those who contract the disease risk the chance of spreading it to infants and young children who have not been fully immunized. Infants are at higher risk for severe illness and life-threatening complications from pertussis, such as pneumonia, encephalitis, and seizures.

Pertussis is a highly contagious and infectious disease. It is caused by bacteria that is found in the mouth, nose and throat of an infected person and is spread by respiratory droplets when an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes. Initial symptoms resemble those of a common cold, including sneezing, runny nose, low- grade fever and a mild cough. Within two weeks, the cough becomes more severe and is characterized by episodes of numerous rapid coughs followed by a crowing or high pitched whoop. A thick, clear mucous may be discharged. These episodes may recur for one to two months, and are more frequent at night. Older people or partially immunized children generally have milder symptoms.

Prior to 2005, the vaccine approved for pertussis was available only to children under 7. The newer Tdap vaccine is recommended for children and adults 11 through 64 years of age. It is required for children in New York State entering 6th grade effective September 1, 2007.

Parents and guardians of children who are affected by these new requirements that have questions can call the Immunization Nurse at the Broome County Health Department at 607.778.2839.