JOLIET – August is National Immunizations Awareness Month and the Will County Health Department is reminding parents to include immunizations on their child’s back-to-school checklist.
Vaccines are recommended to help everyone live healthier lives. Will County Health Department Executive Director John Cicero says children and students at every educational level are a priority focus.
“When children are not immunized, they are at increased risk for a variety of infectious diseases,” Cicero said. “Unimmunized children can easily spread diseases to others in the classroom, at home, and in the general community. We know schools are highly susceptible to disease outbreaks.”
For the 2013-2014 school year all sixth through 12th graders attending public schools in Illinois are required to have a Tdap booster shot. The Tdap booster includes protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (more commonly known as whooping cough).
The new Tdap requirement is in response to increased cases of whooping cough reported in Illinois during the last few years. Students must either show proof of having received the vaccine booster, have an appointment to get the immunization, or have an approved medical or religious exemption on file. If a child received Tdap last year, another booster is not necessary.
Immunizations are equally important for college students. Even healthy young adults need to get vaccinated against diseases like influenza, whooping cough and human papilloma virus (HPV). Meningococcal vaccine is recommended for students who will be living in dorms. Other immunizations may also be needed, depending on the student’s childhood vaccination history, travel plans, and personal health status. Parents should always consult with their healthcare provider to determine individual needs for everyone in the household.
The Will County Health Department offers walk-in immunization services at the Will County Community Health Center in Joliet (1106 Neal Avenue). Services are also available by appointment at Health Department branch office locations in Bolingbrook and University Park. To schedule an appointment or for general information about Will County immunization services, telephone 815-740-8143. The Will County Immunization Desk is also available toll-free at 877-942-5807.