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TUPELO, Miss. — All Mississippi students entering the seventh grade are required to have a recent Tdap vaccination.

According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) vaccination provides protection against whooping cough (pertussis), a highly contagious disease that can be severe or fatal, especially in very young children. Infants who are too young to be vaccinated against pertussis must be protected by ensuring that adolescents and adults around them cannot carry the disease.

Mississippi is the 41st state to require a recent Tdap vaccination for seventh graders. The immunization is recommended for this age group because the immunity received from early childhood vaccination against pertussis weakens over time. Because pertussis is highly contagious, adolescents can contract the disease and easily transmit it to younger children and infants. Pertussis, especially among infants, is now an increasing problem in Mississippi and the U.S. as a whole.

In order to enter school, all students entering the seventh grade must have documentation from a physician verifying that they have received a Tdap vaccination. This includes new students, current students and transfer students in both public and private schools. Students that receive the vaccination will be provided the required documentation.

The vaccine costs $88 at participating North Mississippi Medical Clinics. The receptionist will check eligibility when the patient checks in for those with insurance, and appropriate payment/co-payment will be collected. Vaccines for Children providers will charge $10 for the vaccine to those eligible.

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