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State of Maryland Launches “Don’t Wait, Vaccinate” Campaign to Promote Childhood Vaccinations For Back to School Season

Governor Hogan Declares August Immunization Awareness Month

ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan today announced “Don’t Wait, Vaccinate,” a new campaign to encourage parents and guardians to get their children caught up on routine vaccinations prior to the beginning of the new school year.

To emphasize the importance of routine vaccinations, Governor Hogan declared August as Immunization Awareness Month. In addition, through the state’s $1 million VaxU promotion, all 12- to 17-year-old Marylanders who receive a COVID-19 vaccine are eligible for a $50,000 scholarship. This week’s winners are from Baltimore County and Baltimore City.

“We are working with pediatricians and other health care providers to prioritize well-child visits, and our local health departments are standing up vaccination clinics to help safely welcome children back to school,” said Deputy Secretary for Public Health Dr. Jinlene Chan of the Maryland Department of Health (MDH).

According to ImmuNet, Maryland’s immunization information system, April 2020 saw the greatest decline in the number of vaccinations given to children from birth to age 18, with a decrease of 46% when compared to April 2019. For routine childhood vaccinations, the largest decreases occurred in the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine—a decrease of 71%—and the chickenpox vaccine—a decrease of 68%.

“As we reopen schools this year for full time in-person learning, it’s important to remember that school enrollment requires students to be up-to-date on routine vaccinations,” said State Superintendent of Schools Mohammed Choudhury. “Particularly after last year’s experience with prolonged closures due to COVID-19, our children cannot afford any more time away from the academic and social-emotional support of their school communities.”

“Don’t Wait, Vaccinate” includes TV public service announcements and digital media in English and Spanish featuring pediatricians and other healthcare professionals reminding parents to schedule an appointment to bring children up-to-date on their vaccinations. The campaign also encourages parents to view their children’s official vaccination records online at MyIRMobile.com, a free and secure portal where users can access official copies of their records and those of their family members.

Both the Maryland Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (MDAAP) and the Maryland Academy of Family Physicians (MDAFP) recommend that children resume routine checkups and get their recommended immunizations against vaccine-preventable diseases.

“Routine childhood vaccinations are essential to keeping our children safe and delays can cause regional and national outbreaks of preventable diseases that put our most vulnerable at high risk,” said MDAAP President Debbie Badawi, MD, FAAP. “We strongly urge all families to check with their child’s pediatrician to ensure that they are up-to-date and maximally protected.”

“COVID-19 did not make other vaccine-preventable illnesses go away,” added MDAFP President Jocelyn Hines, MD, MBA. “All vaccines are extensively tested for safety and efficacy before being approved or authorized for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Please get your children vaccinated now before school begins.”

Maryland’s back-to-school immunization requirements are available from the MDH Center for Immunization. For a list of local health department back-to-school vaccination clinics, visit www.marylandvax.org.

To find a COVID-19 vaccination site for Marylanders ages 12 or older, visit covidvax.maryland.gov or call 1-855-MD-GOVAX (1-855-634-6829).  For more information about COVID-19 in Maryland, visit covidLINK.maryland.gov

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