As whooping cough continues to spread across Colorado, health officials are reminding the public that Colorado state law mandates middle and high school students to be up to date on Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccinations or risk exclusion from attending school.
According to Garfield County officials, as many as 200 Roaring Fork School District Re-1 students could be at risk of being excluded from school.
Colorado continues to experience high rates of pertussis (commonly known as whooping cough), according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. There were more than 1,100 cases of whooping cough during the first 10 months of 2013. Garfield County has 26 confirmed cases of whooping cough this year, after not having any reported cases of whooping cough in 2011 or 2012.
Garfield County Public Health and Re-1 school officials are working with parents and students to ensure that students are up-to-date on immunizations required by state law.
“We are concerned with the high number of students who do not have current immunizations, especially in light of Colorado’s continuing pertussis epidemic,” said Danielle Yost, immunization program coordinator.
Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the respiratory tract that can be very serious or even fatal in young infants who have not been fully immunized against the disease. It is also more severe in the elderly and others with weakened immune systems.
“Unfortunately, infants and vulnerable adults often contract pertussis from a child or adult who has only minor symptoms, and is unaware he or she is spreading the disease. This is one reason it is so important that all adolescents and adults receive a booster dose,” added Yost.
Students are required to get their Tdap boosters to comply with the state law. Garfield County Public Health is offering a walk-in clinic for middle and high school students from 3-7 p.m. Tuesday in the Glenwood Springs Public Health office, 2014 Blake Ave. The cost is $15. Students must be accompanied by a parent or other adult, and need to bring their immunization records.
Parents may exclude their children for medical, personal or religious reasons, by contacting the secretaries at the schools their children attend.
Information about the walk-in clinic, and facts on whooping cough are available at garfield-county.com.