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Promise Heights lifts a back-to-school burden for West Baltimore parents

Patricia Fanning | 9/18/2015, 11:30 a.m.
For the second year in a row, the Promise Heights initiative led by the University of Maryland School of Social ...
Booker T. Washington seventh-grader Keyon Williams appears relieved after being vaccinated by medical assistant Jonte Fisher(left), and Dr. Yvette Rooks both of University Family Medicine. Keyon and fifteen other middle school students were immunized at the Promise Heights Initiative vaccination clinic on Monday, September 14, 2015. (Photo: University of Maryland, Baltimore)

For the second year in a row, the Promise Heights initiative led by the University of Maryland School of Social Work (SSW) helped families cope with one of the challenges of getting their children back to school— immunizations.

To meet state vaccination requirements for the 2015-16 academic year, some seventh-grade students lacked not just one but two shots to protect their health, as well as the health of classmates. Certain shots are also needed at other grade levels, and if parents don’t take steps to comply, the students will not be permitted to attend school.

To help students get their shots up to date and to avoid the risk of missing classes, Promise Heights held a free immunization clinic in the West Baltimore neighborhood of Upton/Druid Heights on Monday, September 14, 2015 in the library of Booker T. Washington Middle School for the Arts. Sixteen middle school students were immunized.

Dr. Yvette L. Rooks of University Family Medicine conducted the clinic with medical assistant, Jonte Fisher. Both health professionals are from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where Dr. Rooks is an assistant professor.

The Promise Heights initiative, which works to improve the lives of youngsters from cradle to college or career is supported by partners at the University of Maryland, Baltimore and beyond. Booker T. Washington is one of the initiative’s Community Schools, which receive multiple wraparound services to help students succeed.

Bronwyn Mayden, executive director of Promise Heights and an SSW assistant dean and Rachel Donegan, Promise Heights program director, organized the clinic.

The vaccines were supplied by the Baltimore City Health Department, which was represented by Tiffany Washington-Goyal. The clinic was held in collaboration with the Baltimore City Public Schools and supported by Principal Jessica Blackmon-Stewart.

Many of the seventh-graders were accompanied by their parents, who provided moral support and encouragement for some reluctant youngsters.

Students entering seventh grade require a dose of Tdap vaccine and a dose of Meningococcal vaccine. The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s immunization requirements for public schools can be found at: http://phpa.dhmh.maryland.gov/OIDEOR/IMMUN/SitePages/immunization-Information.aspx.