CENTERVILLE -- Dawson Jensen didn't even wince when stuck in the upper left arm with the Tdap booster immunization.
"A little pinch, and it's done," said 12-year-old Dawson, one of 20 Centerville Junior High School seventh-graders receiving their required immunizations Tuesday at the school. Davis County Health officials were on hand to conduct a 3-hour immunization clinic.
For his bravery, Dawson was to receive a milkshake from a popular hamburger drive-in, said his mother, Jen Jensen, of Farmington.
The clinic was held in response to a recent change in the state's mandatory child-immunization laws.
Effective in July this year, students entering seventh grade in the 2011-12 school year must have a single dose of Tdap, regardless of the interval since receiving the last tetanus/diphtheria vaccine, said Vener DeFriez, manager of the Davis County Health Immunization Bureau.
Tdap provides a combined tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis -- aka whooping cough -- vaccine.
A student must have written proof of receiving all mandatory immunizations prior to entering kindergarten and seventh grade, DeFriez said.
"Our concern is all the grade levels," DeFriez said. "At anytime, a disease can occur."
When students are adequately immunized, they are protected from vaccine-preventable diseases, she said.
However, there are those students who are exempt from the mandatory immunization as a result of their parents or parent claiming an exception, waiving them from having to receive the Tdap booster, or any other immunization required by health officials before entering kindergarten or seventh grade.
DeFriez said the exemptions available to parents are a claim of personal preference, or for medical or religious reasons. In the 26 years she has been working in public health, DeFriez said, she has yet to see an adverse effect of someone receiving a vaccination, outside of experiencing a sore arm or a fever.
She pointed out that parents sometimes withdraw their exemption after they sit down with health care providers one-on-one and learn about the importance of immunizing their child. When they realize their child could be removed from school in the event of an outbreak, she said, they often decide to follow through with the vaccinations.
"Davis County is doing very well (with immunizations)," DeFriez said.
Roughly 90 to 95 percent of the children up to 18 years old in the county have been "adequately immunized," she said.
In addition, the county health department ranks first out of the 12 local health agencies in the state by having 98 percent of all children ages 24 months to 35 months receive the immunization required prior to entering kindergarten.
"That figure is based on those children who seek their vaccination from the health department clinics," DeFriez said.
The percentage of children having been adequately immunized does not take into account the number of students who have claimed an exemption.
But despite the ranking, in response to the recent measles outbreak in Northern Utah, Davis health officials claim there is room for improvement.
Bob Ballew, health department public information officer, said, "We believe in immunizations and want people to take advantage of it."