Do not wait to schedule your 7th and 12th grade student’s meningitis vaccine
Last year, the Iowa Department of Public Health, Bureau of Immunization issued a new vaccine rule that requires all students entering or transferring into 7th grade and born after September 15, 2004 to show vaccine documentation of the meningococcal vaccine. All students entering or transferring into the 12th grade and born after September 15, 1999, will need to show vaccine documentation of two doses of the meningococcal vaccine or one dose if received when the children was 16 years of age or older.
"Not only do meningococcal vaccines help protect each child who receives one, but they can help reduce outbreaks and spread of this dangerous disease to allow teens to learn in the safest environment possible,” said Dr. Nathan Boonstra, pediatrician at Blank Children’s Hospital.
Teenagers have the highest rates of meningitis in the United States. The disease is spread person to person through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions (saliva or spit) during close or lengthy contact. (coughing or kissing). Teens spend extended time together in close settings like school, sports events or practices. Meningitis is a very serious disease. Approximately 10 to 15% of people die from meningitis even with appropriate treatment. Of those who recover, up to 20% suffer from serious after-effects, such as permanent hearing loss, limb loss, or brain damage. The vaccines are very safe and effective at preventing meningitis. The vaccine is 85 – 100% effective at preventing the meningitis infection.
“By law, if your 7th grader or 12th grader is not fully vaccinated for meningitis, he or she could be kept out of school, as early as day one of classes,” said Helen Eddy, Polk County Health Department Director. “Schedule an appointment with your doctor now. Summer and heading back-to-school are busy times for everyone.”
If your child has not had this vaccine, please set up an appointment with their doctor to get their vaccines up-to-date as soon as possible and before the 2018-2019 school year. If you do not have health insurance, you can schedule an appointment with the Polk County Health Department (515-286-3798).
For more information about the meningococcal vaccine, please visit our website www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health.