The Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) requires the Tdap vaccination for all students entering 7th grade each fall. This requirement began during the 2012-2013 school year.
The Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) had previously been a recommended vaccination for this age group since 2006. However at this time Mississippi, along with 41 other states require it.
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, has increased in frequency across the country in recent years, as protection from the childhood pertussis vaccine has become weaker over time in the adolescent population.
”By vaccinating our adolescents, we can decrease illness in this group and reduce exposure and illness in infants,” said State Health Officer Dr. Mary Currier. “Pertussis can be particularly deadly for newborns, and it is essential to limit their exposure to the disease since they are too young to receive a vaccine against it.”
Additional recommended vaccinations for preteens include those against meningococcal disease, human papillomavirus (HPV), and a second dose of varicella (chicken pox) vaccine for those who have not received one at an earlier age.
“We still strongly recommend the Tdap vaccine for all adolescents, however it is only required for those entering seventh grade,” said Dr. Currier.
New Albany Middle School Nurse Anne Christ recently met with rising seventh graders to discuss the vaccination and encourage students to take care of this registration requirement as soon as possible. “Students must have their Immunization Form 121 on file before students can receive their schedules for the upcoming school year,” Christ said.
“I would encourage the parents of incoming seventh graders to adhere to this law to avoid delays in school registration this fall,” said Jackie Ford, Superintendent of New Albany Schools.
The required Tdap vaccination and other recommended vaccinations are available at the health department, clinics, and through all Vaccines for Children (VFC) providers.
After the required Tdap is given, parents will be given a new Immunization Form 121 that is marked “Complete for School”. This new updated form must be on file at the school before your child can attend 7th grade in fall 2015. To avoid a rush for parents at the end of the summer, it is strongly encouraged that the updated Immunization Form 121 be provided to the school as soon as possible.