Health Department

Communicable Disease Prevention & Activities

On this page...


Did You Know?

  • One out of three Americans don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom.
  • One out of four adults don’t wash their hands after changing a diaper.
  • Two out of three people don’t wash their hands after sneezing or coughing.

What a difference those numbers can make! For example, children who wash their hands at least four times a day missed 51% fewer school days from an upset stomach and 24% fewer school days from colds and influenza.

How to wash your hands:

  • Washing your hands with soap and water is best. If soap or water is not available, use alcohol-based hand gels or wipes.
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds. Twenty seconds is longer than you think - sing Happy Birthday, the ABC song, or Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to get an idea.
  • Don’t forget to wash your wrists, backs of hands, between fingers and fingernails.
  • Rinse your hands well.
  • Dry your hands with paper towels.
  • Turn off the faucet with a paper towel.
  • If possible, use a paper towel to open the door. Remember, 33% of Americans don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom!

When should you wash your hands?

  • After you cough, sneeze or blow your nose.
  • After using the bathroom or changing a diaper.
  • Before eating, before preparing food and before setting the table.
  • Before you touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • After playing with or caring for pets. Pets can carry as many as 100 different germs that can make you sick!
  • After playing outside.
  • Whenever hands look or feel unclean.


Disease prevention is the key to public health. It is always better to prevent a disease than to treat it. Vaccines prevent disease in the people who receive them and protect those who come into contact with unvaccinated individuals. Vaccines are responsible for the control of many infectious diseases that were once common in this country, including polio, measles, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), rubella (German measles), mumps, tetanus, and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib).

Infants, children, and adults all need immunizations. To see what vaccine is needed for each age group, choose the appropriate immunization schedule below.

Tdap and DTaP Immunizations

Whooping cough (pertussis) is a disease that spreads easily from person to person by coughing and sneezing. Pertussis can be very serious for babies. It is important to protect yourself and to protect your child by getting vaccinated.

Tdap is a “booster” vaccine used for preventing pertussis (whooping cough), diphtheria, and tetanus in both adolescents and adults. The vaccine is given as a single, one-time injection into the upper arm.

The best way to prevent tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis is to get vaccinated. Getting vaccinated with Tdap is especially important for families with new infants.The risk for pertussis death or severe pertussis is highest among infants in the first six months of life and remains elevated until they have received one to two doses of pediatric DTaP.

Pertussis vaccine is included in childhood DTaP vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis. To be fully protected against pertussis, every child needs five doses of the DTaP vaccine by age seven. It is important to follow the recommended schedule because children are vulnerable to infection until they are fully vaccinated.

One dose of DTaP vaccine is recommended at each of the following ages:

  • 2 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 15-18 months
  • 4-6 years old

Pertussis Prevention Materials:

Childcare Immunization Ordinance

In August 2003, the City of Independence Health Department passed the Childcare Immunization Ordinance; this ordinance was enacted to enforce the Missouri State Law (Section 210.003 RSMo) requirements on immunizations for childcare facilities. Children cannot attend a childcare facility unless they are properly immunized and can provide evidence of the immunization (immunization record), or have proper exemption or in-progress documentation.

The ordinance also serves to improve and maintain immunization rates in Independence childcare facilities, assist in the prevention and control of vaccine-preventable diseases and to educate childcare providers on methods to maintain immunization rates thus promoting accountability.

An immunization record must be on file at the center for every child before they can be accepted for care. All records must be maintained and updated monthly. Immunization audits for Independence childcare centers occur at least two times per year and may occur up to four times.

The Childcare Immunization Ordinance has had the following impact on the community:

  • Improved immunization rates in childcare facilities
  • Improved immunizations record keeping methods and accuracy
  • An increased understanding of the importance of immunizations, surveillance, and reporting in childcare facilities
  • Increased educational opportunities for providers and parents

In 2006, the Childcare Immunization Ordinance was recognized nationally as a Model Practice because of its impact on immunization rates in childcare facilities and the improved communication between childcare centers and the Health Department.