The Tdap vaccination plays an important role in the prevention of tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough. It made headlines last week as more than 70 sixth-graders were suspended from Nash-Rocky Mount Schools because they had not received the vaccine, as required by state law.
Fortunately, the vast majority of those students have since complied. As of Monday, only eight students remained suspended.
The news is a mixed blessing of sorts – bad news for the students who were suspended, but a timely reminder to the rest of us of the importance of this vaccine, not only for sixth-graders but for other age groups, as well.
Vaccinations have all but eliminated tetanus and diphtheria in the United States. The last confirmed case of diptheria was detected in 2003. Physicians treat only about 30 to 50 cases of tetanus a year, nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control. But whooping cough remains a lethal threat, particularly to infants.
Vaccinating against these diseases isn’t just a healthy prevention measure for sixth-graders – it can directly impact the people who come in contact with them.
Credit Nash-Rocky Mount Schools administrators for conducting a high-profile campaign in the fifth grade to encourage parents to have their children vaccinated before the start of the sixth-grade year. Those efforts contribute to a healthier classroom and raise awareness levels in the community, as well.
With that in mind, take a moment during your next physical to ask your physician if you’re up to date on your own vaccinations.
After all, your health is just as important as that of a sixth-grader.