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Public Health Reminds Parents of New School Immunization Requirement

May 11, 2017

Parents of middle school and high school students will face a new immunization requirement this fall. Effective in the next school year, all students enrolling in 7th and 12th grades will need a meningococcal vaccination.

The change requires students in grade 7 to have a one-time dose of meningococcal (A, C, W, Y) vaccine received on or after 10 years of age, or if born after September 15, 2004.

For students entering grade 12, the requirement varies depending on whether the student received one dose before the age of 16. In the state guidelines, if the student received one dose after age 16 that is the only one they will need.  Students who have received one dose before age 16 will be required to have a booster dose before entering grade 12. This requirement is effective for the 2017-2018 school year and parents should plan now.

“Meningococcal disease is a very serious, life-threatening illness,” says Patty Hinrichs, RN, Grinnell Regional Public Health director. “This vaccine protects against four strains, or ‘serogroups’ of meningitis, and is 85 to 100 percent effective at preventing infection.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 to 15 percent of people with meningococcal disease die, even with appropriate treatment. Of those who recover, up to 20 percent have serious after-effects like permanent hearing loss, limb loss, or brain damage.

“This new school immunization requirement is important because the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease are spread through upper respiratory droplets like saliva.  Teens and young adults are at increased risk for meningococcal disease, and meningococcal vaccine is the best protection” Hinrichs says. “As with all vaccinations, this immunization not only protects the individual, but also their friends and those around them.”

For more information on the new meningitis vaccine requirement and for other school vaccine information, visit https://www.idph.iowa.gov/immtb/immunization/laws. If you have questions about immunizations, contact Grinnell Regional Public Health at 641-236-2385 or go online to view the appointment options at https://www.grmc.us/classes-events/education.