Illinois children as young as 10 years old can get vaccinated at pharmacies under an Illinois law signed Tuesday that lowers the age limit.
Previously, the law allowed children age 14 and older get such shots -- including vaccinations for the flu, tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough -- from pharmacists.
Gov. Pat Quinn signed the law at a Chicago drugstore, and it is effective immediately. Children must have a prescription from a doctor to get the shots.
Quinn and state health officials said the timing of the new law was crucial to the back-to-school season. It also comes as many states, including Illinois, are facing a spike in whooping cough cases.
"Because our kids are going back to school, we want them to get their shots so they are protected against very serious illnesses ... We want it to be as convenient as possible," Quinn said at a drugstore on Chicago's southwest side. "If somebody gets sick, it might spread to the entire class."
About 1,500 cases of the whooping cough -- or pertussis -- were reported the Illinois Department of Public Health last year. So far this year, there have already been nearly 1,400 cases of whooping cough in Illinois.
State officials estimate that nearly 630,000 more children will be eligible to get vaccinated at pharmacies because of the new law.
The director of the public health department, Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, said the new law would require some additional training and good record keeping.
Quinn planned to promote the new law he called a "very important public health measure" with stops Tuesday in Rockford, Peoria and Milan.