Schedule your child’s meningitis vaccine appointment before school is out
(Des Moines, IA) – By Iowa Law, all students entering or transferring into 7th grade and born after September 15, 2004 will need to show documentation of having received the meningococcal vaccine. All students entering or transferring into the 12th grade and born after September 15, 1999, will need to show documentation of two doses of the meningococcal vaccine or one dose if received when the children was 16 years of age or older.
“Schedule an appointment with your health care provider now. Summer and heading back-to-school are very busy times for everyone,” said Helen Eddy, Polk County Health Department Director. “Do not wait, as appointments will fill up fast and your child may not be able to see their provider in time.”
Those students who do not have proof of at least one dose of the meningitis vaccine will NOT be allowed to start school on the first day of the 2019-2020 school year. This means not attending school or participating in any school functions such as sports, band, chorus or going to dances and other school activities.
“If a child is a diagnosed with meningitis, the child can be hospitalized for seven to 10 days and up to a month of recovery time before returning to school,” said Eddy. “This can be very costly to families who have to miss work or to care for a sick or recovering child.”
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.
Parents and guardians need to review their child’s immunizations to see if they have the meningitis vaccine. If not, they need to call their doctor’s offices immediately to set up an appointment. If your child does not have health insurance or is underinsured, you can schedule an appointment with the Polk County Health Department at (515) 286-3798.
For more information about the meningococcal vaccine, please visit our website www.polkcountyiowa.gov/health.