ANNOUNCEMENT: Maryland health and education officials urge parents to keep COVID vaccinations on their back-to-school checklist

August 24, 2022

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Maryland health and education officials urge parents to keep COVID vaccinations on their back-to-school checklist

Baltimore, MD— As summer vacation ends and schools return to classes, the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) and the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) are urging parents across the state to put COVID vaccinations and boosters at the top of their checklist for back to school to keep their kids and schools COVIDReady all fall.

“Our children deserve the strongest protection against COVID, just as they do with other potentially dangerous childhood diseases such as polio and measles,” said MDH Undersecretary for Public Health Services Dr Jinlen Chan. “If you haven’t already done so, please keep your children up to date on all necessary vaccines and protect themselves from COVID at the same time as part of your back-to-school program this year. We can work together to ensure our children learn and grow together safely.”

MDH has been working in partnership with MSDE since 2020 to help Maryland students be protected from COVID-19 in schools, including organizing statewide K-12 COVID testing programs and initiatives and co-hosting clinics for vaccination against COVID. This year’s school safety focus is on what every Marylander can do to be safe and ready for COVID, and pediatric vaccinations and boosters are a key component to back-to-school success.

“We are excited to bring our students, teachers and staff back to schools for a new school year of learning, discovery and growth. As we come back together, it’s important to focus on each of our roles to keep our school communities safe and healthy,” said Maryland Schools Superintendent Mr. Mohammed Choudhury. “We ask for the partnership of our families and parents to help keep schools safe by ensuring children are up to date on all routine childhood vaccines as well as the COVID vaccine.”

Currently, about 44.9% of Maryland children ages 5-11 are fully vaccinated against COVID, with an additional 15.5% percent receiving one recommended booster. Among children aged 12-17, about 78.8% were fully vaccinated, with 36.4% receiving a booster. Among Marylanders ages 6 months to 4 years, approximately 9.6% received at least one shot of the Moderna and Pfizer pediatric vaccines authorized in June, with a 2.6% percent fully vaccinated against COVID.

Community pediatricians such as Dr. Monique Soileau-Burke of Columbia said many parents of young children have not given their children the COVID vaccine because they believe the vaccine is new and potentially dangerous and that COVID is not a serious threat for the health of their children.

“Many parents tell me that they think that COVID is not that dangerous for children, but unfortunately that is simply not true. I have had young patients hospitalized with severe illness from COVID, as have my colleagues,” said Dr. Burke. “And at least half of all children hospitalized for COVID nationwide did not have underlying health problems before they got sick. I urge families to choose a safe and effective vaccine over a potentially dangerous disease.

Among children infected with COVID in the United States, more than 140,000 have been hospitalized and more than 1,700 have died since the pandemic began. More than 28 million children nationwide have received the vaccine, and evidence shows it is effective in preventing severe illness and hospitalization from COVID.

Maryland parents can find information about their children’s immunizations, including information about COVID vaccines, at MarylandVax.org. Information for parents and caregivers about COVID and the value of vaccinations and back-to-school incentives can be found at Information for parents.

For more information on COVID-19 resources, visit covidLINK.maryland.gov.

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The Maryland Department of Health is dedicated to protecting and improving the health and safety of all Marylanders through disease prevention, access to care, quality management and community engagement.

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