The Indiana State Department of Health and the Indiana Department of Education have asked
that school systems provide important information to parents and guardians of students about
pertussis (whooping cough) and the vaccines available to prevent this serious illness.
Pertussis is a highly contagious respiratory infection caused by the bacterium Bordetella
pertussis. Pertussis is spread by infectious airborne droplets created when a person who is
infected coughs or sneezes. Infants and young children are typically vaccinated against
pertussis, but the vaccine loses effectiveness as children get older and vaccinated children can
Pertussis causes severe coughing fits. During the fits, the affected person may be short of breath
and appear distressed. The coughing fit may be followed by vomiting and exhaustion. Young
infants are at highest risk for developing complications like pneumonia and seizures from the
Adolescents and adults who have been previously vaccinated may have milder disease, but they
can still spread pertussis to others. The United States Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) recommends a routine pertussis booster for all 11-12 year old children, and
for anyone older who did not have a booster at 11-12 years of age. The pertussis booster (Tdap)
is combined with tetanus toxoid and takes the place of one tetanus booster shot. The Tdap
vaccine can be given as soon as one year after a regular tetanus booster.
Please talk with your child’s healthcare provider about the Tdap vaccine. Additional resources
for families to obtain information about pertussis disease include the following websites:
Indiana State Law IC 20-30-5-18 requires that school systems provide important information to
parents and guardians of students about meningococcal disease and the vaccines available to
prevent this serious illness at the beginning of each school year.
Meningococcal disease is caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis and generally affects
children and young adults in two ways:
meningitis (an inflammation of the tissues covering the brain and or spinal cord)
bloodstream infection (that usually leads to bleeding under the skin)
Symptoms of meningococcal disease can include a sudden onset of fever, headache, stiff neck,
nausea, and confusion and in blood stream infections a rash will develop. This disease progresses
rapidly and often results in permanent hearing loss, mental retardation, limb amputations and
even death. The bacteria spread through air droplets or by means of direct contact with an
infected person’s saliva.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends routine
vaccination with the meningococcal conjugate vaccine (Menactra) for all students. The Indiana
State Department of Health requires the meningococcal conjugate vaccine.
Many local health departments and private healthcare providers offer this vaccine. Please talk
with your student’s healthcare provider about meningococcal vaccine and immunization.
Additional resources for families to obtain information about meningococcal disease include the