GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. A Colorado state law mandates that middle and high school students are at risk of exclusion from attending school due to inadequate Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) vaccinations. This could affect approximately 200 Roaring Fork School District RE-1 (RFSD) students.
Colorado continues to experience epidemic 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 ten 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 RFSD RE-1 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, Tuesday, December 10, from 3 - 7 p.m. in the Glenwood Springs Public Health office, located at 2014 Blake Avenue. The cost is $15. Students must be accompanied by a parent or other adult, and need to bring their immunization records.
"We are pleased to work with Garfield County and families to resolve this issue in order to keep children healthy and to meet Colorado’s legal standards for health and safety,” stated Rob Stein, Chief Academic Officer of the Roaring Fork Schools. “We have already sent two letters this school year to parents whose children's vaccination records are not up-to-date, and we are planning to send out a robocall as another reminder. We have let parents know of the walk-in clinic as an option to get their children vaccinated,” Stein shared.
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 on Garfield County's website.