New school year, new immunization rules in D.C. region

WASHINGTON — Children are lining up for back-to-school shots. And in Maryland and Virginia, their parents are running out of time to make sure they meet some new immunization rules.

In Maryland, students entering kindergarten now need two doses of chicken pox vaccine instead of one. Middle schoolers going into seventh grade have to get a meningitis shot and a dose of the tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis — or Tdap — vaccine.

Dr. Kirsten Hawkins, chief of adolescent medicine at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, says doctors have been recommending these vaccines for some time to patients in the 11- to 12 year-old age range.

Hawkins says a lot of tweens have recieved them, but not all, and believes the change in immunization rules “will really level the playing field to ensure that all Maryland 7th graders are well vaccinated.”

Hawkins says the meningitis vaccine is an especially good one that covers four types of bacterial meningitis common in adolescent and pre-adolescent patients.

Montgomery County is going the extra mile to help parents who have not been able to get their 7th grader vaccinated. The county is offering free Tdap and Meingococcal vaccinations this coming Saturday — August 23rd — from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the county school system’s Carver Educational Services Center in Rockville.

Parents in Virginia have only one change in vaccination requirements to deal with. Virginia has added at Tdap booster for incoming 6th graders to its vaccination list.

The D.C. public school system updated its requirements for Tdap and meningitis years ago, and Hawkins says the District appears to be leading the way in the region when it comes to student immunizations.

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