SILVER SPRING, Md. (NewsChannel 8) - Thousands of Montgomery County schoolchildren still need to prove they've received their vaccinations.
This comes as the county confirms at least 12 students have contracted pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough.
School started last week, but as of the first day of classes, roughly 4,200 of 11,000 seventh graders couldn't prove they had had all the necessary shots. Those students are in danger of being excluded from school, if they don't provide proof of their vaccinations.
Inside the Montgomery County Health Center in Silver Spring, the clinic has plenty of meningococcal and TDAP vaccines. TDAP is for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis.
"We haven't had a huge rush, so we're hoping that they do use those clinics, so that we can make sure they get vaccinated," said Cindy Edwards, senior nurse administrator for communicable diseases and epidemiology for Montgomery County Health and Human Resources.
Edwards says the vaccines are essential.
There was also a spike in pertussis in 2012. In addition to the infected students in Montgomery County, a student in Fairfax County, Va. was also recently diagnosed with whooping cough.
Efforts are underway to prevent meningitis before students head to college.
"Besides the fact that it's important for their health that they have some immunity to these diseases, it also is important that they stay in school," said Edwards.
Families will have until Sept. 15 to prove their seventh graders were vaccinated, or the students can't attend school.
One sixth-grade parent already took precautions.
"I heard about it through some other parents, but I wasn't sure if sixth graders were going to use them or not. So, I still went ahead and took her to the doctor's and got her vaccinated for it," said Carlos Munoz.
"It's just something that maybe got put off, or it wasn't a good time for them. So, we're now trying to follow up to make sure that they get it, because they have to have it to be in school," said Edwards.
Edwards said some students may be having difficulty proving they have been vaccinated due to lack of insurance, timing, or because the school system hasn't yet received their records.
Families can get the required vaccinations for free at one of Montgomery County's vaccination clinics through Sept. 12:
(Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.)German Town Health Center12900 Middlebrooks Road, Second FloorGermantown, Md. 20874240-777-3380
Silver Spring Health Center8630 Fenton St., 10th FloorSilver Spring, Md. 20910240-777-3160
(Tuesday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.):Dennis Avenue Health Center2000 Dennis Ave.Silver Spring, Md. 20902240-777-1050
(Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.)School Health Services Center4910 Macon RoadRockville, Md. 20852301-468-4529