Maryland announces new vaccination requirements for upcoming school year

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WJLA) - Maryland health officials announced that new immunization requirements will take effect statewide for students entering kindergarten and seventh grade in the fall.

The new requirements mandate that all kindergarten students have two varicella vaccinations, and students entering the seventh grade to have one Tdap, or Tetanus-diphtheria-attenuated pertussis, and one meningococcal, or MCV4, vaccination.

State officials said school health staff members are currently reviewing student health records to notify the parents of current sixth-grade students of the new requirements. Families should have received a letter recently advising them of the new requirements.

The statement said students who do not show proof of the required immunizations, or file the necessary paperwork to opt out of immunizations, will be excluded from attending school at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.

"Immunizations are an important part of keeping people of all ages healthy. Immunizations should begin at birth and continue throughout a person's life," said Montgomery County health officer Dr. Ulder J. Tillman. "By staying current with immunizations, we can protect our families, ourselves and our community."

The announcement comes on the heels of two confirmed cases of measles in the past month with exposure warnings in Northern Virginia, Maryland and D.C.

Officials said parents should contact their doctor to make sure their child is properly immunized and submit a copy of the documentation to the child's school health nurse as soon as possible - but no later than Monday, Aug. 25, which is the first day of the 2014-2015 school year throughout much of Maryland.

In addition, free Tdap and MCV4 immunizations will be offered to incoming seventh grade students on Friday, June 13 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Col. E. Brooke Lee Middle School, Julius West Middle School and Rocky Hill Middle School, all in Montgomery County.

An additional vaccination clinic will also be held on Saturday, Aug. 23 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Montgomery County Public Schools' Carver Educational Center, located at 850 Hungerford Dr. in Rockville.

Appointments are required and can be made online. A parent or designated adult must be present with a parent-signed consent form at the time of vaccination.

For more information on immunizations, call the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services' Immunization Program at 240-777-1050 or School Health Services at 240-777-1550.

For specific information, parents may contact their child's school health nurse.