Students enrolling in school in Maryland for the 2014-2015 school year will be required to get some new vaccinations, or they won't be able to start class.
Kindergarteners in the state are required to get a second dose of the chickenpox vaccine, while students in the seventh grade must get the vaccination for Meningococcal and Tdap, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.
Kurt Seetoo, the senior immunization epidemiologist at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said the new requirements brings the state on board with the "30 to 40 states" that have already implemented the national recommendation.
"The diseases that these vaccines prevent are still around," Seetoo said. "If they are in school, it's possible for there to be an outbreak situation."
Seetoo said the health department is working with schools, local health departments and doctor's offices to get the word out before the fall.
Students must have the vaccinations before the start of school; those who don't comply will be given 20 days to either receive the shot or show proof of immunity. Those who do not comply, Seetoo says, will be excluded from school. However, it's the responsibility of each schools to enforce that exclusion.
But there are some exceptions.
Students with medical conditions or religious beliefs that prevent them from getting vaccinated can apply for an exemption.
"For the kids who can't get vaccinated because of medical conditions, they rely on the healthy children to get vaccinated to protect those who could not get vaccinated," Seetoo said.
The new vaccination requirement will be phased in over the next few years to insure everyone, K-12, is covered.