Health officials are encouraging parents to put vaccinations at the top of their children's back-to-school lists.
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, Wisconsin's 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. In Michigan there has also been a worrisome steady increase in pertussis over the past decade, peaking in 2010 with over 1,500 cases reported.
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis.
Pertussis is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe. After fits of many coughs, someone with pertussis often needs to take deep breathes which result in a "whooping" sound. Pertussis most commonly affects infants and young children and can be fatal, especially in babies less than 1 year of age.
The best way to protect against pertussis is immunization.
For middle and high school students, Wisconsin 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 will be available soon in Florence County and the recommended target group is everyone age six months and older. This year's seasonal vaccine again includes immunization against the H1N1 virus," stated Florence County Health Department Director, Annette Seibold.
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): www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/immunization/publicAccess.htm. Health care providers can also assist parents to access these records.
In Michigan, immunization registry information is available by visiting www.mcir.org/.
For more information on the Wisconsin Immunization Program, visit: www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/immunization.
The Michigan Department of Community Health offers further immunization information at www.michigan.gov/mdch/.