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Walgreens supports Tdap immunization push in Chicago
August 20th, 2013
DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreen Co. is working with Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Department of Public Health to help parents of students in grades 6 to 12 meet a new Illinois state requirement for whooping cough vaccinations.
Walgreens said Tuesday that the effort aims to boost awareness of the importance of getting a Tdap vaccine before the start of the school year on Aug. 26 by providing easier access to pertussis immunizations through programs and events.
For example, events at select Chicago Public School (CPS) locations will have Walgreens pharmacists on hand to administer vaccines to students in need. The drug chain and
the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) also will host immunization clinics throughout the city to provide vaccines to students in need.
In addition, the Chicago Department of Public Health Care Van will tour parks, schools and businesses to offer free mobile immunization clinics in communities across Chicago.
Ten Walgreens stores in Chicago also are being enrolled in the federally funded Vaccine for Children program to provide greater access to the Tdap vaccine for communities in need. The program provides vaccinations for eligible children up to age 18.
"Walgreens is playing an important role in helping to prevent this serious illness, providing greater access to vaccine in the Chicago area and throughout Illinois. We have more than 600 points of care statewide, including our pharmacies and Healthcare Clinics that routinely offer the Tdap vaccine and other immunizations year-round," Walgreens chief medical officer Harry Leider said in a statement. "Access to this and other vaccines, as well as out-of-pocket costs, are barriers for many families, and through this collaboration with CDPH and CPS, we're focused on making the back-to-school season easier while helping more students and their families get, stay and live well."
Over the past two years, the number of whooping cough cases in Illinois have nearly doubled, part of a national trend that has seen the highest levels of illness in more than 50 years, according to Walgreens. Students will be required to show proof of having received a single dose of the Tdap vaccine, which protects against pertussis, tetanus and diphtheria, or have an approved religious or medical exemption on file by Oct. 15.
There were 2,026 pertussis cases reported across Illinois last year, according to the state Department of Public Health, the highest level since 1950.
"In Chicago, more cases of whooping cough were reported last year than in the prior three years combined," stated Julie Morita, medical director for the CDPH Immunization Program. "Making sure that children receive the Tdap vaccine is one of the most important things parents can do to protect their children. When our students are healthier, our classrooms, schools and communities will be healthier."