A new law requires all New York children entering 7th and 12th grades to get the meningococcal vaccine.
Meningococcal disease is a rare but dangerous disease that strikes without warning. It can cause meningitis (an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) and sepsis (blood infections). Even with treatment, an infection can lead to death within a few hours. In non-fatal cases, permanent disabilities can include loss of limbs, hearing loss and brain damage.
"Immunizing children and young adults at these ages is critical to protecting them from this potentially fatal and devastating disease," said Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker. "We are fortunate to have a vaccine for meningitis and urge parents to stay on top of their children's vaccine requirements."
The meningococcal conjugate vaccine, or meningitis vaccine, is the best way to protect against this disease; it is 85% to 100% effective at preventing infection. It often affects young people and spreads easily in close quarters by coughing, sneezing, kissing, or sharing utensils and cups.
Grades 7 and 12 were chosen for the school requirements because they align with ages the first and second doses of the vaccine are recommended by the CDC.
The new requirement goes into effect September 1.