Wednesday, August 1, 2018
As parents compile back-to-school task lists, health officials say that along with backpacks, notebooks and pencils, parents add the vaccinations that are required by Maryland and Virginia state laws in order for students to attend school. Now is the time to get those immunizations to avoid the back to school rush.
“We have free walk-in clinics where you can get vaccines between now and the beginning of the school year,” said Mary Anderson, Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services. “We urge parents to go now and not wait. We offer vaccines at clinics every day of the week at four different locations.”
Appointments are not required for immunization visits in Montgomery, Arlington and Fairfax counties. The Alexandria Health Department, however, offers services by appointment only.
“We would certainly encourage parents to make an appointment now,” added John Silcox, Fairfax County Health Department. “Appointments fill up quickly, and there are some walk-in appointments, but the closer you get to school the more crowded our clinics get.”
Fairfax County has five clinics which offer vaccines. “School-required immunizations are always free at our clinics, whether a person has insurance or not,” said Silcox. “We highly encourage parents to call the clinic that is most conveniently located to them … so that they have you vaccines in time for school.”
Parents must bring a copy of the child’s existing immunization record. “A parent or designated adult must be with the child when they go to get vaccines,” said Anderson. “If a parent doesn’t have or can’t find their child’s record, we can try to reconstruct it.”
As recently as May, the Washington, D.C. region saw a case of a vaccine preventable disease, says Anderson. “There was a case of measles that this particular individual had contracted outside of the country,” she said. “But this is a reminder about the importance of vaccinations because if you had come in contact with this individual and hadn’t been vaccinated you could have gotten sick.”
Some students may be granted an exemption from the Virginia and Maryland state requirements for religious or medical reasons. “There is an exemption form that people would need to get filled out and turn into their school in order to be exempt from the state requirement.”