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DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens, Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Department of Public Health are teaming up to help parents of students in grades 6 to 12 meet a new Illinois state requirement for Tdap vaccinations, which help to protect against whooping cough, the pharmacy operator announced Tuesday.
“Walgreens is playing an important role in helping to prevent this serious illness, providing greater access to vaccine in the Chicago area and throughout Illinois," stated Harry Leider, Walgreens chief medical officer. "We have more than 600 points of care statewide including our pharmacies and Healthcare Clinics that routinely offer the Tdap vaccine and other immunizations year-round,” he said. “Access to this and other vaccines, as well as out-of-pocket costs are barriers for many families, and through this collaboration with CDPH and CPS, we’re focused on making the back-to-school season easier while helping more students and their families get, stay and live well.”
“In Chicago, more cases of whooping cough were reported last year than in the prior three years combined,” stated Julie Morita, medical director for the CDPH Immunization Program. “Making sure that children receive the Tdap vaccine is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their children. When our students are healthier, our classrooms, schools and communities will be healthier.”
Walgreens, CPS and CDPH, building on a collaborative health initiative around flu last year, aim to heighten awareness around the importance of getting the Tdap vaccine prior to the start of the school year Aug. 26, by providing greater and more convenient access to vaccinations through a number of programs and events. These include:
- Events being held at select CPS locations with Walgreens pharmacists on hand to administer vaccines to students in need;
- Walgreens and CDPH hosting immunization clinics throughout the city to provide vaccines to students in need;
- The CDPH Care Van touring parks, schools and businesses to offer free mobile immunization clinics in communities across Chicago;
- and 10 Walgreens stores in Chicago are being enrolled in the federally funded Vaccine for Children program, to help provide greater access to the Tdap vaccine for communities in need. The program provides vaccinations for eligible children up to 18 years of age.
The mandate comes as the number of whooping cough cases in Illinois have almost doubled over the past two years, part of a national trend that has seen the highest levels of illness in more than 50 years. Students will be required to show proof of having received a single dose of the Tdap vaccine, which protects against pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus and diphtheria, or have an approved religious or medical exemption on file by Oct. 15.
There were 2,026 whooping cough cases reported across Illinois in 2012, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the highest in the state since 1950. Whooping cough, or pertussis, is a highly contagious and potentially serious illness that is easily transmitted.
A Tdap booster vaccine is recommended for adults and adolescents to protect against whooping cough, and is important for those in contact with infants younger than 12 months of age. A dose of Tdap is also recommended for pregnant women.
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