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Baltimore Students Behind On Various Vaccines

Children across the country fell behind on vaccines due to the pandemic. Credit: Asian Development Back/Flickr
Ariel Javellana
Children across the country fell behind on vaccines due to the pandemic. Credit: Asian Development Back/Flickr

While school’s out for Baltimore City Public School students, summer is going to be a busy time for local doctors, who are making sure schools will be safe in the fall.

Part of that work means making sure children are up to date on their vaccinations, and not just for COVID-19.

Dr. Arlene Tyler is a pediatrician and medical director for school-based health at the Baltimore Medical System, Maryland’s largest federally qualified health center.

She’s encouraging parents to take their children to one of the eight school-based health centers located within Baltimore City Public Schools that are open during the summer.

“We can provide full range services to our students, we can do full physicals, office visits, sick visits, as well as provide immunizations and any laboratory draws that they might need,” she said.

Dr. Tyler said it’s crucial for parents to make sure their children are up to date on their vaccines.

“Some of those old diseases that we don't see anymore, they could start popping up,” Tyler said. “So in addition to COVID, we might have a flare of a measles outbreak...and that's not something that we would want our children to face.”

During the pandemic, children across the country have fallen behind on their vaccinations for other diseases, according to a recent CDC report. While the rates have been improving, Dr. Tyler says there is a lot more work to do over the summer.

“We know that this coming year, we're going to have a large portion of kids that are going to need vaccines,” Tyler said. “Those are particularly kids who weren't yet in school. They need those vaccines now, before getting into school.”

For example, Tyler said that 59% of incoming seventh graders in Baltimore City Public Schools need to be vaccinated against whooping cough and meningitis for the coming school year.

“I truly want to see our sense of community coming back together as we get back to a new normal,” she said. “but the only way to do that is for us to continue to take steps to make sure we can get there safely.

She encourages parents to consult the Baltimore Medical System’s website, bmsi.org, or give them a call, at 443-703-3600, where you can get more information on BMS resources as well as available COVID-19 vaccine clinics.

Sarah Y. Kim is WYPR’s health and housing reporter. Kim is WYPR's Report for America corps member, and Anthony Brandon Fellow. Kim joined WYPR as a 2020-2021 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. Now in her second year as an RFA corps member, Kim is based in Baltimore City.