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County gets tough about vaccinations

Sunday, November 18, 2007

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. -- Scores of grumbling parents facing a threat of jail lined up at a courthouse Saturday to either prove that their children already had their required vaccinations or see that the youngsters submitted to the needle.

The get-tough policy in the Washington suburbs of Prince George's County was one of the strongest efforts made by any U.S. school system to ensure its youngsters receive their required immunizations.

Two months into the school year, school officials realized that more than 2,000 students in the county still didn't have the vaccinations they were supposed to have before attending class.

So Circuit Court Judge C. Philip Nichols wrote a letter ordering parents to appear at the courthouse Saturday and either get their children vaccinated on the spot or risk up to 10 days in jail. They could also provide proof of vaccination or an explanation why their children didn't have them.

By about 8:30 a.m., the line of parents stretched outside the courthouse in the county on the east side of Washington.

Many of them complained that their children already were properly immunized but the school system had misplaced the records. They said efforts to get the paperwork straightened out had been futile.


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