Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious bacterial disease that can be fatal.
According to ADPH, the disease has increased alarmingly in the past decade.
In the first six months of 2012, there have been 69 reported cases of pertussis in the state.
The number of reported pertussis cases in the state in all ages continues to be a concern, with 205 cases reported in 2010 and 133 cases reported in 2011.
"Adolescents have one of the highest rates of pertussis cases," said Winkler Sims, director of the Immunization Division of the Alabama Department of Public Health. "The sixth- through eighth-grade requirement for students age 11 or older will protect students from pertussis at the adolescent age in school and through the remainder of their school experience."
The Tdap vaccine not only protects adolescents from contracting pertussis, but prevents the spread of the disease to family members, other students, teachers and school administrators.
The vaccine requirement will go up by one higher grade each school year.
For the 2013-2014 school year, students entering the sixth- through ninth-grades will be required to get the vaccine.
Pertussis is a bacterial infection of the lungs and spreads from person to person through moisture droplets in the air, usually from coughs or sneezes. A person with pertussis develops a severe cough that usually lasts four to six weeks or longer.
For more information, contact the Immunization Division of ADPH at 1-800-469-4599.
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