Health officials and organizers from around the State of Illinois are partnering up to raise awareness about the importance of protecting children against deadly diseases by getting vaccinated.
With kids headed home from overnight camp, and the beginning of the school year just around the corner, parents are being urged to make sure their children are up-to-date with vaccinations. This year, four prominent health organizations in Illinois are partnering to send the message that making sure children are fully vaccinated is especially important in preventing deadly diseases. The Northern Illinois Public Health Consortium (NIPHC), which is made up of 11 public health departments including the Lake County Health Department, is joining with the Chicago Area Immunization Campaign (CAIC), the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (ICAAP), and the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians (IAFP) to stress the importance of vaccinations.
"Diseases that have been practically eliminated in the U.S. are just a plane ride away, so while we are seeing near record low cases of some vaccine-preventable diseases here, the viruses and bacteria that cause them still exist and are a threat," said Dr. Julie Morita, Medical Director of the Chicago Department of Public Health Immunization Program.
While most vaccine-preventable diseases have become rare, some outbreaks still occur. In Illinois, over 1,500 cases of pertussis (also known as whooping cough) were reported in 2011, with the majority of cases in children under 18 years of age. The number of whooping cough cases in 2011 increased by more than 40 percent from 2010. As of August 2012, Illinois has already recorded over 1,200 cases. Currently, Illinois ranks 5th nationally with four states having more whooping cough cases than Illinois. These states include Wisconsin, Washington, Minnesota and New York.
Lake County health officials have seen a significant increase in cases compared with last year. Thus far this year in Lake County 138 cases of pertussis have been reported (as of August 6). Between January and August 6 of 2011, only 37 cases were reported. For the entire year of 2011 a total of 175 cases were reported.
With school around the corner, health officials are stressing the importance of parents checking with their children's doctor to make sure their children are up to date with all of their shots. Whooping cough is on the rise, making it especially important that every child is vaccinated against it. Most children are vaccinated against whooping cough before entering kindergarten. However, a booster dose (Tdap) is necessary because protection from the pre-school vaccines decreases over time.
To reduce the number of whooping cough cases, children 11 years and older and unvaccinated adults should get this booster as soon as possible. Whooping cough is easily transmitted in schools. This year the State of Illinois has a new requirement for sixth and ninth grade students to show proof of having received a single dose of Tdap.
Parents should discuss Tdap and all recommended vaccines with their healthcare providers when taking their children for their back-to-school physicals. For vaccination schedules, visit the CDC's web site at: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html.
"Making sure that children of all ages receive all of their vaccinations on time is one of the most important things that parents can do to ensure their children's long-term health-as well as the health of friends, classmates and family," said Dr. Morita.
- The Lake County Health Department provided this information.