New vaccination requirements in effect for Maryland school students
Wednesday, 20 August 2014 13:12
 by Nicole Rodman

    As the start of school approaches, many families are busily preparing.
    One often-overlooked item to take care of:  making sure students have all of the vaccinations required to attend school in the fall.
    Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, students entering kindergarten and seventh grade in the state of Maryland will be required to get new vaccinations.
    Students entering kindergarten will be required to have two doses of the varicella (chicken pox) vaccine in order to attend school.
    For students entering seventh grade, one dose of the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) vaccine and one dose of the meningococcal (MCV4 or meningitis) vaccine will be required.
    State requirements mandate that students receive vaccinations for tetanus, diptheria, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella (chicken pox), hepatitis B and meningitis.
    Students attending both public and private schools must receive the required vaccinations.
    Under state law, school officials are not allowed to admit students who have not received the necessary vaccinations.
    Parents or guardians have 20 days from the start of school (Wednesday, Aug. 27, in Baltimore County) to show proof that the vaccines have been received or will be received.
    Under state law, parents or guardians may receive exemption from the vaccination requirements for valid medical or religious reasons.
    Students who do not receive vaccinations or an exemption will not be allowed to attend classes.
    Though concerns over the safety of vaccinations have been raised in recent years, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) notes on its website that “nearly all children can be safely vaccinated.”
    “The United States currently has the safest, most effective vaccine supply in its history,” the CDC site explained.
    While one 1998 study suggested a possible link between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and autism, that study was later retracted and its author barred from the practice of medicine.
    Subsequent studies have concluded that there is no link between vaccinations and autism.
    As the CDC notes, while widespread vaccination has led to a sharp decline in illnesses such as measles or pertussis, the diseases are not completely gone.
    “Most young parents have never seen the devastating effects that diseases like polio, measles, or whooping cough (pertussis) can have on a family or community,” the CDC site stated.
    “It’s easy to think of these as diseases that only existed in the past. But the truth is they still exist.”
    In May, the CDC reported that cases of measles in the U.S. were at a 20-year high.
    “The current increase in measles cases is being driven by unvaccinated people, primarily U.S. residents, who got measles in other countries, brought the virus back to the United States and spread it to others in communities where many people are not vaccinated,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of CDC’s National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases, stated.
    The most common side effects of vaccinations are mild and may include fever or redness and swelling at the injection site.
    More serious side effects, such as allergic reaction, can occur but are rare.
     For students who do not have health insurance, are underinsured or are on medicaid, no-cost vaccines are available through the federal Vaccines for Children (VFC) program.
    For more information on VFC, call 1-800-CDC-INFO or visit www.cdc.gov/features/vfcprogram/.
    In Baltimore County, children eligible for VFC can receive vaccinations at a number of clinics across the county.
    A standing immunization clinic is held at the Dundalk Health Center, 7700 Dunmanway, on the first Friday of the month, from 1 to 4:30 p.m., and on the second Friday of the month, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Appointments are required.
    For more, call the Dundalk Health Center at 410-887-7182.
    For more on immunization requirements in Maryland, visit http://phpa.dhmh.maryland.gov/OIDEOR/IMMUN/SitePages/back-to-school-immunization-requirements.aspx.
    For more information on vaccines from the CDC, visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/index.html.