By Trang Do
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) – Children in Alabama will have to roll up their sleeves a couple of extra times.
They’re now being required to get two additional vaccinations.
These extra shots will mean better health for our children.
They have been available and recommended for the past few years, but after some extensive studying, state health officials have decided to make them mandatory.
Alabama has seen a marked increase in whooping cough cases recently, a move that has prompted state health officials to try to get ahead of the problem.
“It’s nothing more than an aggravating cough for most people,”Â said Dr. Larry Robey, Madison County Public Health Officer.Â “But when an adult or adolescent has whooping cough, they can infect a baby where it can be a serious life threatening disease.”
Before they enter the sixth grade, children 11 years of age or older now must get the TDAP vaccine, which prevents pertussis, more widely known as whooping cough.
In 2009, Alabama had 314 reported cases, when for the past decade numbers averaged at fewer than 100 cases per year.
Madison County had the third highest instance of whooping cough in 2009, at 26 cases.
“We don’t want to see the disease,” Dr. Robey said. “We would prefer to be able to give the vaccine and say we really prevented it, but now that we’re seeing an increase it makes the vaccine that much more important.”
Effective immediately, children under five years of age entering daycare or preschool will be required to get the pneumococcal vaccine, one that protects against the most common cause of meningitis in children.
“This new vaccine is much stronger, gives better protection with less side effects,” Dr. Robey said.Â “It has been offered for the past couple of years, we’re now making it mandatory for pre school children.”
Dr. Robey said vaccines have been such an effective tool in preventing the spread of disease, that many people don’t realize some diseases, like whooping cough, are still around.
The Madison County Health Department has both vaccines in stock. Dr. Robey said they also should be available at your family doctor or pediatrician’s office.
Children entering the sixth grade will have to have an immunization certificate showing they received the vaccination before they enter school in the fall.
Children under five will have to do the same before they enter daycare or preschool.