Ask a 7-year-old what a measles shot feels like, and this is what you hear:
"Like a little pinch," said Nishan Gugsa, who got her booster shot at a special measles clinic yesterday at Roland Park Elementary/Middle School.
"Like somebody drilling a hole in your arm," muttered Talle Selhorst, a second-grader who also braved the needle to get her measles booster.
Flinches, squeals and brave smiles were common yesterday, when hundreds of Roland Park students got their measles booster at a two-day, city-sponsored clinic.
Concerned about a suspected measles case at the school, city health officials last week ordered all Roland Park students to show proof of a booster when they return from spring break on Monday.
Parents still have the option of getting the booster from their child's family physician.
But school health nurses were at the school yesterday and again today to vaccinate children for free, and will be there Monday morning when school opens again.
Health officials are hoping to prevent an outbreak, mindful of last year's experience, when Baltimore accounted for 94 of the 213 measles cases around the state.
"This is to prevent what's happened in some of the other counties," said Nancy Speckman, a school nurse supervisor for the City Health Department.
She noted that Howard and Anne Arundel counties have been struck by measles outbreaks this year.
Measles is considered the most serious of the common childhood diseases. It is highly contagious and includes several days of flulike symptoms, followed by a rash that can cover the body.
The potentially fatal disease can result in encephalitis, leading to convulsions, deafness or mental retardation.
Though all children are required to have an initial measles vaccination to enter school, medical experts and state health officials now say that a booster shot is needed to make sure a child is immune from the disease.
City health officials are planning to offer free vaccinations to all sixth-graders in the system, starting this month.
A city health services van has been visiting public housing complexes around the city this week, offering free vaccinations to children who may not have received them.
"We are not in an epidemic stage," said Pamela Somers, assistant director of emergency medical services program for the city. But, "based upon what happened last year, we're trying to head it off," she added.