SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- Illinois health officials are calling attention to an increase in whooping cough cases this year as they remind parents about required immunizations for children.
Approximately 1,200 cases of whooping cough have been reported in Illinois so far this year. That's compared to 468 cases reported as of Aug. 1 last year.
There's a new immunization requirement for the 2012-2013 school year. Sixth- and ninth-grade students are now required to show proof of receiving the Tdap vaccine. That's an immunization against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, commonly called whooping cough.
The Illinois Department of Public Health says students must either show proof of having received the vaccination, have an appointment to get it or have an approved medical or religious exemption on file.
The state of Illinois passed a law several years ago requiring all children entering the sixth through ninth grade to receive the Tdap vaccine, a shot that protects against tetnus, diphtheria and pertusis. The law goes into effect for this school year; ironically, at the same time a whooping couch outbreak continues to spread across the state.
Some local physicians fear Illinois' current 1,200 cases will grow once school is back in session.
Dr. Tim Lackey is a pediatrician at Anderson Hospital in Maryville, Ill. He has seen several cases of whooping cough this year, but believes the disease first began gaining traction in Illinois and Missouri several years ago.
Luckily for those children who only have a few weeks to be vaccinated before they return to school, Lackey and the Illinois Department of Public Health do not anticipate a shortage of the vaccine.
Lackey estimates the shot to cost about $20 at a doctor's office, but is typically free at most health departments.