KCUR News
10:12 am
Fri August 13, 2010

Back to School: Kids Face New Vaccine Requirements

Kansas City, MO – Children in Kansas and Missouri are facing new immunization requirements as they return to school this year.

Following federal recommendations, both states are now requiring the tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis shot, otherwise known as Tdap. In Missouri, the vaccine's now required for all incoming eighth graders, unless they've already received a booster shot in the past two years. The same applies for all seventh graders in Kansas.

Julie Beach oversees immunizations at the Johnson County Health Department. She says this new recommendation is an important one.

"Even though it appears to a lot of people that these diseases don't exist anymore, they do," says Beach. "And we've seen that with pertussis - it's a classic example of people who made the decision not to vaccinate their children for whatever beliefs, and now we're seeing outbreaks as a result of it."

Beach is referring to the pertussis, or whooping cough, outbreak in California this summer. Over 2,000 kids have contracted the disease, and it's resulted in a handful of deaths.

Kansas and Missouri are also now requiring that kids get a second dose of the chickenpox vaccine. In Missouri, the requirement applies to all kindergartners. That's already the case in Kansas, but the state is now expanding the requirement to all first graders.

Beach says new CDC research has found that just one dose of the chickenpox vaccine is oftentimes not enough to protect kids from the disease.

Along with the new Tdap and chickenpox requirements, all students in Kansas must now complete the Hepatitis B vaccine series, something that's already required in Missouri.

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