From the Harford County Health Department:
School and public health officials in Harford County urge parents to make sure their children are properly immunized by the start of school to meet new state regulations. Seventh graders in Harford must receive their Tdap and Meningitis vaccines by Sept 12 or be excluded from school the following Monday. Other new vaccination requirements exist for children entering kindergarten in 2014.
State and local officials have been working since last year to prepare Maryland parents and schools for the new school year. In May, 2014, the Harford County Health Department and Harford County Public Schools collaborated to administer 528 doses of Tdap vaccine and 542 doses of Meningitis vaccine to sixth graders taking part in initiatives conducted at each of the nine public middle schools. The Health Department also has reached out to area private schools whose students are affected by the new regulations. Emails were sent to private school nurses explaining how they could receive help meeting the new requirements.
Families with insurance are encouraged to take their students to their private provider for the necessary vaccinations, which also may be available through the Target clinics and Patient First. However, children without insurance or any student who has difficulty obtaining these vaccines through their healthcare provider should call the Harford County Health Department at 410-612-1774 to schedule an appointment to receive the Tdap and/or Meningitis vaccine(s) at no cost.
Although immunizations against both childhood and adult diseases are one of public health’s greatest success stories, thousands of cases of preventable illness still occur in the United States every year despite the availability of safe and effective vaccines. Second only to the availability of clean water, vaccination has greatly reduced the burden of infectious diseases throughout the United States and worldwide.
“When a critical number of people within a community are vaccinated against a particular illness, the entire group becomes less likely to get infected,” states Harford County Health Officer, Susan Kelly. “Not only does vaccination protect those who are immunized, but it also can slow down the rates by which illness spreads among those who are not. It’s also less expensive to prevent a disease than to treat it,” explains Ms. Kelly, referring to studies showing that for every dollar spent on routine childhood immunization in the U.S., researchers estimate savings to society of more than $5 in direct costs and almost $11 in additional costs.
For more information on school immunization requirement visit the Harford County Health Department website at www.harfordcountyhealth.com. To schedule an appointment, contact the Health Department Communicable Disease Unit at 410-612-1774.
From the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene:
NEW SCHOOL IMMUNIZATION REQUIREMENTS FOR MARYLAND KINDERGARTEN AND 7TH GRADE STUDENTS
Baltimore, MD (August 11, 2014) –State and local officials have been working since last year to prepare Maryland parents and schools for new school immunization requirements for students entering kindergarten and 7th grade this fall. All kindergartners must have had two chickenpox (varicella) vaccinations. All 7th graders must receive a pertussis booster (Tdap) and dose of meningitis vaccines. School officials and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) are urging parents to make sure their child is appropriately immunized against these diseases prior to the start of school. Children may be excluded from school if they do not have these vaccinations.
“We have spent the past year helping parents and schools prepare for these school immunization requirements,” said Dr. Laura Herrera, Deputy Secretary for DHMH Public Health Services. “We want to be sure all Maryland children start the school year with up-to-date vaccinations and are ready to learn.”
Immunizations are one of public health’s greatest triumphs. With the exception of safe water, no other health strategy– not even the creation of antibiotics–has had such a tremendous effect on reducing disease. Despite the availability of safe and effective immunizations, thousands of cases of vaccine-preventable diseases occur in the United States every year. Consider the following facts about varicella, pertussis and meningitis:
• Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease that can be spread before a person knows they have the disease.
• Chickenpox can lead to serious complications, including pneumonia and brain damage.
• One out of five people who get meningococcal meningitis experience serious complications, such as the loss of limb(s), permanent hearing loss, or mental impairment.
• In recent years, adolescents (11-18 yrs) and adults (19 yrs and older) have accounted for an increasing proportion of pertussis cases.
• Infants who are at highest risk for complications and death due to pertussis are often infected by older siblings, parents or caregivers who might not even know they have the disease.
In preparation for the new requirements, local health departments are holding special back-to-school clinics throughout the state. Parents should call their doctor or local health department to learn if their child needs any of the school-required vaccinations and make arrangements to receive the missing vaccines so their child will not be excluded from school.