New student ritual: back-to-school shots Measles booster is being phased in

August 31, 1993|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff Writer

In Tuesday's Carroll County editions, the usual timing of children's immunizations was listed incorrectly. Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis shots are usually given at 2, 4, 6 and 18 months and oral polio vaccines at 2, 4 and 18 months.

* The Sun regrets the error.

Six-year-old Casey Riley, waiting at the Carroll County Health Department's immunization clinic, said he's not afraid to get the shots he needs to enter kindergarten at Winfield Elementary School.

But his older brother, Chad, thought he knew why not. "That's because he's never had them before," said Chad, 8, a third-grader at Winfield Elementary.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

"Yes, he has," said their mother, Cynthia Riley, who brought the boys to Westminster from their home in Taylorsville for a ritual that is becoming almost as familiar as back-to-school shopping -- back-to-school shots.

Maryland has begun phasing in booster measles shots as part of a student's required immunizations, said Marge Hoffmaster, coordinator of health services for Carroll County Public Schools.

This year, students entering kindergarten and grades 1, 6 and 7 will be required to have a measles booster immunization. The shots were required for the first time in the 1992-1993 school year for children entering kindergarten and sixth grade.

Mrs. Hoffmaster said students who got the shots before the start of the last school year will not be required to repeat them.

Students may have to get another measles immunization when they enter college.

All students entering Carroll schools must have: four diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis shots, usually given at 18 months and 2, 4 and 6 years; three oral polio vaccines, usually at 18 months and 2 and 4 years; and one measles, mumps and rubella shot, usually given at 15 months.

The measles booster requirement was prompted by outbreaks in colleges throughout the United States that led health officials to conclude immunizations didn't last as long as anticipated, Mrs. Hoffmaster said.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta, have reported 2,700 cases of measles at colleges and universities since 1986. In Maryland, health officials recorded 108 measles cases among school-age children during a 1991 outbreak in Anne Arundel, Calvert, Cecil, Baltimore and Howard counties.

Timothy Bright, 15, and his brother Philip, 13, went to the Health Department clinic to get pre-college measles booster shots, but not just because their mother, Gerry, believes in planning ahead.

Mrs. Bright and her husband, members of the Church of the Open Door in Westminster, recently completed training to become missionaries.

The family will spend four years in Thailand with the New Tribes Mission.

Gerry DeMoss' reason for being at the clinic was more prosaic. The Finksburg 10-year-old will enter West Middle School Sept. 7. "The shots at the doctor's were $75," said Gerry's mother, Linda.

The walk-in immunization clinic is considerably less expensive. The department does not charge for the vaccines, which it gets through the federal government.

The clinic staff asks for a $5 donation per patient to help cover administrative costs, but the donation is voluntary.

Although the school system is phasing in measles booster shot requirements, the clinic offers the vaccine routinely to all children over age 5, said Mary Bandorick, a registered nurse and supervisor of the child health program.

The clinic also provides HiB vaccines to protect children against a type of flu that is a major cause of meningitis, and Hepatitis B vaccines to protect against liver infection. The vaccines are recommended but not required, Mrs. Bandorick said.

The Health Department has added clinics each August for the last three years to meet the back-to-school demand, Mrs. Bandorick said. She doesn't have a total for this year, but the four nurses working the clinic immunized 133 people in four hours Aug. 24, and about 150 more at Friday's 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. clinic.

"People have a tendency to wait until the last minute," Mrs. Bandorick said. That quirk of human nature leads her to project that attendance will be about 300 at the clinic Friday, the last day to get shots there before the start of school Sept. 7. The clinic will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Health Department, 540 Washington Road, Westminster.

The process takes about 10 minutes, Mrs. Bandorick said. She and other nurses give shots. A physician is available if the nurses need an assessment of a child's physical condition.

Through the year, the weekly clinic is open on Tuesdays from noon to 4 p.m. -- which is extended to 7 p.m. once a month for working parents. The clinic provides shots ranging from childhood immunizations to tetanus boosters to pneumonia vaccines for the elderly.

Services at the child health unit also include well-child exams for those up to age 18, with separate time slots for teen-agers, school sports physicals, health education and nutrition counseling.

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