SALISBURY – The Wicomico County Health Department will begin a series of walk-in immunization clinics next week ahead of the new school year.
Beginning Aug. 16, the health department will be doing its part to bring Wicomico County students up-to-date on required immunizations.
Students entering kindergarten, first, second and third grades are required to have two doses of the Varicella (chicken pox) vaccine. Students entering seventh through tenth grade are required to have one dose of Tdap, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, and one dose of the Meningococcal vaccine.
Dr. James Cockey, deputy health officer for the Wicomico County Health Department, said the county has offered immunization clinics for several years, but is seeing a growing interest in this year’s clinics.
Cockey attributes this interest to new state requirements that will better enforce immunization requirements for public school students.
According to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Maryland State Department of Education, students who have not received required immunizations within the first 20 days of school can be excluded from school.
Though officials have listed certain provisions to the new immunization requirements, Cockey said the state agencies were taking a more aggressive approach to immunizations requirements.
“It’s enforced for a good reason,” he said.
Cockey explained the required immunizations protect against life-threatening diseases that can be fatal to infants and those with immune disorders.
“With very good reason, the state is being proactive,” he said.
Like in years past, Cockey said the health department is working closely with Wicomico County Public Schools to ensure students have access to necessary immunizations.
“We have gone out of our way to facilitate for these kids,” he said.
Cockey said families attending the walk-in clinics should bring their children’s vaccination records.
The immunization clinics will take place at the Fritz Health Center on West Carroll Street in Salisbury on Aug. 16 from 5-7 p.m. and Aug. 26 from 8:30 a.m. to noon. Additional clinics will follow at the start of the school year.
In Worcester County, the health department will host three clinics prior to the start of the school year.
Debora Farlow, maternal-child health nursing manager for the Worcester County Health Department, encouraged parents to make the necessary arrangements.
“We encourage parents of students determined by the school to need vaccines to contact their child’s doctor to schedule an appointment prior to the start of the 2017-2018 school year,” she said. “For children having a difficult time getting an appointment with their doctor, the Worcester County Health Department offers ‘Back to School’ clinics. Vaccines during the clinics … are free to all students.”
Farlow said these clinics will take place Aug. 25 at the Snow Hill Health Department, Aug. 28 at the Pocomoke Health Department and Sept. 1 at the Berlin Health Department from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Appointments are encouraged, but not required.
Those with questions are encouraged to contact the Wicomico County Health Department at 410-543-6943 or the Worcester County Health Department at 410-629-0164.