News

For Immediate Release
July 25, 2012

State education and health agencies issue reminder for immunizations as students head back to school


August marks National Immunization Awareness Month


SPRINGFIELD — As more than 2 million Illinois students prepare to head back to school, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) encourage parents and guardians to ensure their children’s immunizations are up to date. New IDPH rules require students entering sixth and ninth grades this school year show proof of receiving the Tdap vaccine, a booster shot for continued protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, commonly referred to as whooping cough.

“Let’s start the school year off right and keep our children healthy and ready to learn in their classrooms,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “Immunizations are easy and protect everyone from diseases that can have serious complications.”

The State of Illinois requires vaccinations to protect children from a variety of diseases before they can enter school. Required up-to-date immunizations for a child entering any grade include diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, poliomyelitis, measles, rubella and mumps. Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (Hib) is required only for children entering preschool programming.  Hepatitis B is also required for children entering preschool programming, but is not required for children in kindergarten through fourth grades. Hepatitis B is, however, required for students entering fifth grade and above. Varicella (chicken pox) is required for students entering preschool programming through 10th grade.

IDPH cites recent outbreaks of whooping cough, or pertussis, in Illinois as it stresses the need for protection and adherence to its new rules.

“This new requirement for sixth- and ninth-graders comes at a time when we are seeing a substantial increase in pertussis cases here in Illinois and across the country,” said IDPH Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. “This newly required Tdap booster will help protect students and those around them, including infants, who are too young to be fully immunized.”

August marks National Immunization Awareness Month (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niam/default.htm) which aims to educate people of all ages about the importance of protecting their health by being immunized against infectious diseases.

In addition to immunizations, all students enrolling in kindergarten in a public or private school and any student enrolling for the first time in Illinois (with the exception of preschoolers) must have an eye examination. The eye exam needs to be performed by a licensed optometrist or medical doctor who performs eye exams and is licensed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. All eye exams must be completed within one year prior to Oct. 15.

Furthermore, all students enrolled in kindergarten and the second and sixth grades are required to have a dental examination.

Also, all children must complete a physical examination prior to entering Illinois schools for the first time, prior to the date of entering kindergarten or first grade, prior to entering sixth grade, and prior to entering ninth grade. The exam includes gender and date of birth; an evaluation of height, weight, BMI, blood pressure, skin, eyes, ears, nose, throat, mouth/dental; cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, genito-urinary, neurological, and musculoskeletal evaluations; spinal examination; evaluation of nutritional status; lead screening; and other evaluations deemed necessary by the health-care provider.

Illinois’ health exam requirements are aligned with recommendations by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on adolescent vaccinations, including Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), meningococcal and HPV (human papillomavirus).

Parents and guardians should contact their health-care provider, local health department or pharmacy to schedule an appointment to receive the recommended and required vaccinations. It is important to keep an immunization record card for your child’s entry into school.

IDPH offers a “Parents Guide to Childhood Immunizations” at www.idph.state.il.us/about/pgci.htm. There is also the Illinois Help Me Grow helpline at 1-800-323-GROW (voice and TTY) for additional immunization information. For parents who may not be able to afford immunizations, IDPH lists the Vaccines for Children program, which is a federally funded program that provides vaccines at no cost to children from low-income families. For information, call (312) 746-6050 in Chicago or (217) 785-1455 for the rest of the state.

For additional information about immunizations in Illinois, visit:

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