August 20, 2012
Stephanie Smiley, 608-266-1683

Immunizations Give Kids a Healthy Start to the School Year

Pertussis Vaccination is Critical in Light of State Outbreak

MADISON-State health officials are encouraging parents to put vaccinations at the top of their children's back-to-school lists. While Wisconsin traditionally has high compliance rates with childhood immunization requirements, this year's pertussis (whooping cough) outbreak makes getting this vaccine especially important.

"Immunizations are key to ensuring a healthy start to the school year, for your child and for their classmates," said Dr. Henry Anderson, State Health Officer.  "Following age-appropriate vaccination guidelines will help keep them healthy and in school rather than sick at home with an illness that could have been prevented."

With the widespread outbreak of more than 3,700 pertussis cases in Wisconsin this year, parents are urged to make sure children are vaccinated against the disease. For middle and high school students, state requirements include a dose of the tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap). Most children will also need to meet the requirement for a second dose of varicella vaccine to prevent chicken pox, which is being phased in. Parents are encouraged to check with their children's schools to confirm whether their children need the second dose.

The seasonal influenza vaccine is already available in many Wisconsin communities and the recommended target group is everyone age six months and older.  This year's seasonal vaccine again includes immunization against the H1N1 virus.

Vaccinations are recommended not only for children entering grades K-12, but also for college students, particularly freshmen living in dormitories. These students should be immunized against meningitis and hepatitis B.

Parents and caregivers with insurance are encouraged to schedule their children's immunizations with their family's physician. Also, parents should keep track of each immunization children receive, and can review these records in the Wisconsin Immunization Registry (WIR): Health care providers can also assist parents to access these records.  

For information on the Wisconsin Immunization Program, visit: