From the Harford County Health Department:
National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) is observed every August and provides an opportunity to highlight the value of immunization across the lifespan. Activities focus on encouraging all people to protect their health by being vaccinated against infectious diseases. This is especially important as the new school year begins for students across Harford County.
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 that went into effect last year.
Seventh and eighth graders in Harford County must have received a dose of Tdap and Meningitis vaccines by September 15, or be excluded from school the following day Wednesday, September 16.
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 with Medical Assistance should call the Harford County Health Department at 410-612-1774 to schedule an appointment to receive the Tdap and/or Meningitis vaccine(s). Other vaccines are available through the Harford County Health Department such as the Varicella vaccine and the HPV vaccine. Those students with Medical Assistance will have their MA billed for the cost of the vaccine. Students without insurance will be charged $23.00 per vaccine.
All children entering kindergarten or first grade are required to have received two doses of Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine. The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s 2015 Recommended Immunization Schedule states that the first dose of Varicella vaccine should be given after the first birthday, with the second dose given between the fourth and fifth birthdays.
It is highly recommended that children 11-12 years of age receive the HPV (Human Papilloma Virus)vaccine. This vaccine is given as a three dose series and is approximately 97% effective at reducing the risk of genital warts, oral, cervical, and anal cancers. The CDC recommends that the HPV vaccine be given before a child becomes sexually active.
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.
It is the responsibility of students’ parents/guardians to provide schools with proof of immunization. Official documentation is recorded on the Maryland Immunization Certificate (DHMH 896). This form is available from the schools. If you have documentation from another source or have any additional questions, please consult with the school nurse.
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.