Evanston students in grades 6 through 12 will be required to show proof they have received the whooping cough vaccine when they report to school next fall.

Local school authorities are advising parents of a letter from the Illinois Department of Public Health that tells of the new statewide requirement.

The new rule has been issued, according to the letter, “because  pertussis (whooping cough) disease continues to occur throughout many Illinois communities and vaccination of children and adolescents reduces illness and absenteeism among school-age students.”

The letter goes on to say that “pertussis infections in infants can be fatal, and reducing the spread of pertussis through vaccination of community members helps to protect infants, especially those who are too young to be fully vaccinated.”

Noting that many local health departments and pharmacies offer the vaccine, the state agency recommends that parents take action now to avoid a last-minute rush during the summer.

Most students have already received the vaccine from their health care provider, in which case all that is necessary is verification documentation from the provider, the agency said.

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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