Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2007

Make sure students are ready with all the right shots

Schools must have written record of immunizations

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Whether a child is beginning preschool or finishing up high school, if he or she is new to Montgomery County Public Schools, a record of immunizations is required before the student can start attending classes.

It is a matter of public health, officials say.

‘‘Vaccines really do work in decreasing communicable diseases and when you have a lot of people in a small space [like a classroom], it’s important that we do everything we can to protect them,” said Cindy Edwards, nurse administrator of the Immunization Outreach and Education Program for Montgomery County.

Besides that, it is the law.

A written record of immunizations must be submitted to the student’s school and the vaccinations have to match those required by Montgomery County.

The requirements differ from state to state, so each school is required to check the records of incoming students and notify parents or guardians of any further vaccines needed.

‘‘Most people are pretty good about it if they are notified,” Edwards said, adding that a student can start school with incomplete immunizations, but the child must show proof of an appointment to be immunized within 20 days.

‘‘It is really, really important that we protect our kids against vaccine-preventable diseases, and vaccines are very effective,” Edwards said.

Although a record of immunizations is only required once during a student’s school years, Edwards suggests that parents take their children for a medical checkup before each milestone along the way.

‘‘It is good to have a checkup before middle school and before high school to make sure the child is growing appropriately,” Edwards said.

A student can be kept out of school for not having the proper immunizations, but that is not something the county likes to do, Edwards said.

Immunization requirements for school age children are: DPT (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis), polio, hib (Haemophilus Influenzae type b), measles, mumps, rubella, varicella (chickenpox), and hepatitis B. Preschool children also need to receive Prevnar.

The Health Department has clinics throughout the county for immunizing children and so does the School Health Services Center in Rockville.

To learn more about which vaccines are required by Montgomery County, visit and select ‘‘Immunizations.”

Vaccine update

To learn which vaccines are required by Montgomery County, visit and select ‘‘Immunizations.” Choose ‘‘Back to School Immunization Requirements” and click on ‘‘Vaccine Requirements for School Year 2006-2007.”

Or, call the county Health Department at 240-777-1050 or the School Health Services Center at 301-468-4529.