Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Health & Parenting

Font Size

Should Schools Require Vaccinations for Teens?

Debate Stirred by Rise in Whooping Cough Cases
By
WebMD Health News

July 27, 2005 -- Middle schools and high schools should consider requiring students to be vaccinated against infectious diseases before attending classes, a CDC official said Wednesday.

Public health officials have been alarmed by an astonishing 300% rise in cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough, among teens in the past three years. Just under 19,000 pertussis cases were reported last year.

Most infants receive pertussis vaccinations before their third birthday, but immunity wears off by the time children reach their teens.

Battling Whooping Cough

The FDA this spring approved a pair of new vaccines designed to re-establish immunity in older kids.

Many states require young children to have complete vaccinations before entering elementary school. In September, thousands of District of Columbia students were barred by officials from attending classes because of missing immunizations.

Stephen L. Cochi, MD, acting director of the CDC's national immunization program, told reporters yesterday that health officials are "still struggling" with rising cases of pertussis.

"The main message is that the pertussis bacteria is still circulating widely out there," he said.

Wednesday, Larry K. Pickering, MD, Cochi's senior adviser, said states should consider extending vaccination requirements to also cover older kids in middle schools and high schools. While he did not endorse the policy, he listed it as one of his recommendations -- along with better vaccine education and tracking -- for extending vaccinations to teens.

"We'll have to see the direction that we take as far as requirements for entry into various schools," Pickering said at a conference sponsored by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. The group is sponsored by six pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturers.

Vaccines on Campus

Pickering credited requirements for student meningococcal vaccinations at many colleges and universities for helping to control the frequency of bacterial meningitis at U.S. campuses.

In May, the CDC recommended that children receive a newly approved meningitis vaccine at ages 11-12 or before high school or college.

Nine states require vaccinations for freshmen entering college dormitories. Eighteen more require universities to provide students with education on meningitis, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Meningitis kills 10%-15% of the 2,600 people who contract it each year, according to the CDC.

Experts also await the approval of a vaccine against human papilloma virus (HPV), a known cause of cervical cancer. HPV is sexually transmitted, and young, sexually active women are thought to be at particular risk.

Today on WebMD

Girl holding up card with BMI written
Is your child at a healthy weight?
toddler climbing
What happens in your child’s second year.
 
father and son with laundry basket
Get your kids to help around the house.
boy frowning at brocolli
Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
 
mother and daughter talking
Tool
child brushing his teeth
Slideshow
 
Sipping hot tea
Slideshow
Young woman holding lip at dentists office
Video
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Chill Out and Charge Up Challenge – How to help your tribe de-stress and energize.
Spark Change Challenge - Ready for a healthy change? Get some major motivation.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply
Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
Article
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
 
tissue box
Quiz
Child with adhd
Slideshow