Newsroom > DHHS News Release

July 20, 2010

Marla Augustine, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-4047 or

Nebraska 7th Graders Need Proof of Whooping Cough Booster Shot This School Year

Note: Sound bites on this topic are available at:

Lincoln – Have a student entering 7th grade this year? Nebraska law now requires proof of a whooping cough booster shot. Students enrolled in 7th grade must provide documentation showing they received the tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough) booster vaccine - Tdap.

"Whooping cough can be very serious and potentially deadly," said Dr. Joann Schaefer, the state’s Chief Medical Officer and the Director of Public Health for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). "It’s important for students to get the booster shot, not only because it’s required, but because it protects their health."

Whooping cough is a highly contagious disease marked by severe coughing. It’s caused by bacteria found in the mouth, nose and throat of an infected person. Whooping cough is spread through close contact when an infected person talks, sneezes or coughs.

Older children, teenagers and adults who may be harboring the disease in their nose or throat can spread the infection to infants and young children in the household. That’s why it’s so important for children to be immunized against whooping cough and other diseases. Without protection from a vaccination, kids are at risk of being exposed and exposing others to what can be a deadly disease under the right circumstances.

So far this year, Nebraska has had 47 cases of whooping cough. In 2009, there were 121 cases and 213 cases in 2008. Two Nebraska babies died from the illness, one in 2008 and one in 2004.

Before the booster shot at age 11 or 12, children are vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus and whopping cough as part of a 5 shot series. Children usually receive doses at 2, 4 and 6 months old, a fourth dose is given when a child is 15-18 months old and then the fifth dose is received prior to entering school.

For vaccination information, contact your local health care provider or your local health department. DHHS’ Immunization Program is another good resource at 402-471-6423. For more information on whooping cough, go to