Maryland proposes additional pertussis, chicken pox booster requirement

The state of Maryland is proposing a new set of vaccination guidelines that would require incoming kindergartners to get a chicken pox booster and seventh graders to get a booster against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.

The state also wants to include a vaccine against the bacterial disease meningococcus and to increase the requirement for the number of rubella and mumps vaccines. State health officials and doctors say that while most children are already getting the necessary shots, the vaccination guidelines would allow for better regulation of the process, the Baltimore Sun reports.

The Tdap vaccine against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough, also known as pertussis, would be particularly important because the vaccination given in infancy has a tendency to wane in effectiveness.

"This is an important addition because we know that adults and children can infect the most vulnerable people who get pertussis, and that is infants," David Blythe, the state epidemiologist, said, according to the Baltimore Sun.

If the proposed changes go into effect, Maryland would be aligned with standards recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. To this date, 36 states have adopted such standards. The new guidelines, if adopted, would to into effect in 2014.

"The recommendations for these immunizations are not new nationally," David Bundy, an assistant professor of pediatrics and childhood adolescence at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, said, according to the Baltimore Sun. "This is just updating the state's requirement to reflect the existing recommendations. It just makes us all look like we're in alignment with what we're doing, and it tightens the safety net at schools for kids who may be missing vaccines."