BALTIMORE — For many families, getting their children back to school came with added challenges for the 2014-15 year. The State of Maryland issued new immunization requirements for kindergarten and 7th grade students, leading parents to seek information and help to make sure kids received their shots. In West Baltimore, the Promise Heights initiative led by the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) has responded by conducting multiple clinics in two public schools.
The effort was launched during Back-to-School nights at Booker T. Washington Middle School (BTW) on September 9, 2014 at The Historic Samuel-Coleridge Taylor (HSCT) Elementary School on Sept. 18.
The Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) released information on immunization requirements for all children, to be found at http://www.baltimorecityschools.org/Page/24371. But in many households and school offices, the focus was on the added shots necessary for protection from illness. Students entering kindergarten need two doses of Varicella vaccine; those entering 7th grade need one dose of Tdap vaccine and one dose of Meningococcal vaccine.
Bronwyn Mayden, MSW, executive director of Promise Heights, learned that many children in the initiative’s target neighborhoods of Upton/Druid Heights lacked shots when school opened for the fall term. Mayden, an assistant dean at the University of Maryland School of Social Work (SSW), took action of the sort that has prompted UMB to honor her as a Champion of Excellence for her service to the community.
She collaborated with the Baltimore City Health Department to obtain the vaccines, with the BCPS to coordinate the clinics, and with three other disciplines at UMB to staff them. Faculty and staff at the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, and SSW pitched in to administer injections or work in other ways such as documentation.
As a result of the Promise Heights effort, 31 middle-school students and 42 elementary students were immunized, and the collaborating principals — Debbie D. Thomas at BTW and Kelvin Bridgers at HSCT –were able to report the children in compliance.