Central Iowa parents need to plan to meet a new immunization requirement that will be in effect for the upcoming school year for students enrolling in grades 7 through 12.

The change requires a one-time dose of meningococcal (A, C, W, Y) vaccine received on or after 10 years of age for students in grades 7 and above, if born after Sept. 15, 2004. It requires two doses of meningococcal (A, C, W, Y) vaccine with one dose received on or after 16 years of age for students in grade 12, if born after Sept. 15, 1999; or one dose if received when students are 16 years or older. This requirement is effective for the 2017-2018 school year.

As with all vaccinations, this immunization not only protects the individual, but also their friends and those around them.

“Meningococcal disease is a very serious, life-threatening illness,” said Story County Public Health Nurse Sherry Zook, BSN, RN. “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, including 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” said Zook.

For more information on the new meningitis vaccine requirement and for other school vaccine information, visit http://www.idph.iowa.gov/immtb/immunization/laws. If you have questions about immunizations, contact Story County Public Health at 515-239-6730 or publichealth@mgmc.com.