State health officials remind parents about vaccines

State health officials are reminding parents to get their kids their vaccinations before school starts.

Some of the requirements are new, and students can be kept out of the classroom if they do not have the proper shots.

“We have spent the past year helping parents and schools prepare for these school immunization requirements,” said Dr. Laura Herrera, deputy secretary for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s 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.”

Students entering kindergarten now must have had two chickenpox (varicella) vaccinations. All 7th-graders must receive a pertussis booster (Tdap) and dose of meningitis vaccines.

Health officials say cases of preventable disease occur every year despite vaccines, but they are the best defense against the illnesses.

Some disease, including chickenpox, are highly contagious and can spread before a person knows he has it. Chickenpox can also lead to serious complications including pneumonia and brain damage.

As for meningococcal meningitis, one out of five people have serious complications, such as loss of limbs, hearing loss and mental impairment. And in pertussis cases, older kids are accounting for an increasing number of cases.

The vaccines can be obtained through family physicians, and local health department are holding back-to-school clinics, the state health officials said.

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