- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
New requirements for student immunizations from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will take effect next school year.
The new requirements contained in the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) include new and additional immunizations for incoming kindergarten and seventh-grade students. If students do not receive these requirements by the 20th day of school for the new school year, they will not be allowed to attend class.
“According to the law, if students don’t meet these requirements by Friday, Sept. 5, we have to exclude them from school,” said Donna Nichols, supervisor of student services and school health for Calvert County Public Schools.
“We don’t want to have to exclude anybody,” Kim Roof, director of student services, said.
The requirements are that incoming students entering kindergarten need two doses of Varicella, a chickenpox vaccine, in addition to the hepatitis B, rubella, mumps, measles, HIB, polio and Tdap vaccines already required.
For incoming seventh-grade students, a single dose of the Tdap vaccine — combined protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis — is needed, in addition to a single dose of the meningococcal vaccine. These two requirements stem from an increase in recent outbreaks of meningitis and pertussis, Nichols said.
According to COMAR, “A school principal … may not knowingly admit a student to or retain a student” in school without evidence of the required immunizations. Students who are non-compliant or who have not presented their immunization record may be temporarily admitted to school. These students may be given up to 20 calendar days to present evidence of receiving the required immunizations or a documented medical contraindication.
“This has the possibility of becoming a major public health issue if it’s not taken care of properly,” Nichols said.
Nichols said she is more concerned about the incoming seventh-grade students because they do not frequent a doctor as often as younger children who require more vaccines at an earlier age.
According to Student Services’ records, 1,269 students may be entering seventh-grade in Calvert County Public Schools next year, and so far, only 70 of those students have the required immunizations.
Nichols said on June 7, the Calvert County Health Department will have a free immunization clinic from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. where students can receive the required vaccines on a first come, first served basis. Under the Affordable Care Act, Nichols said, the vaccines will be free through insurance.
The state is also making the immunizations free for all incoming kindergartners and seventh-graders, Nichols said.
“Better do it now to avoid the rush in August,” Nichols advised.
“If the missing documentation is not presented to the school by the due date, the child must be excluded the next school day and may not return until records are provided by the parent to show current immunization compliance,” according to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Parents are asked to provide their child’s school with an updated shot record, signed and stamped from a doctor’s office, as soon as possible. If a student has already received the required vaccines, Student Services will clear their record as soon as proof has been received. For questions, parents are encouraged to call the nurse at their child’s school, Donna Nichols at Student Services or the Calvert County Health Department.