New vaccine requirements for kindergarten and seventh grades

VaccinesHeads up Mom and Dad, there are new vaccination requirements for kids going into kindergarten and seventh grade this year in Maryland.

"Maryland is updating its school requirements following recommendations made by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," explained Greg Reed, program manager for the Center for Immunization at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The new vaccines requirements are:

  • 2 doses of varicella for kindergarten
  • 1 dose of Tdap for seventh graders
  • 1 dose of meningococcal vaccine for seventh graders

The second dose of the varicella, or chicken pox, vaccine is a booster required because there has been a decrease in immunity as children age, Reed explained.

The Tdap, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, has added the pertussis immunization to the Td booster to protect against whooping cough, which has had a resurgence in recent years, he said.

As for the meningococcal, Maryland was the first state in the country to require the vaccine — which protects against meningitis — for college students living in campus housing. Now the state is following other states and the CDC recommendations requiring it for all students entering seventh grade. "It will protect against meningitis as a child gets older," Reed said.

Reed recommended parents talk to their doctor about the new requirements or contact their local health department if they do not have a doctor.

"Health departments will have back-to-school clinics where families can get low cost or free immunizations," he said.

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