The Iowa Department of Public Health is advising families about a new vaccination requirement for students going back to school next month.
Under a new state law, meningitis vaccine will be required for students entering 7th and 12th grades for the 2017-2018 school year.
“We have been working to notify all the health care providers and working with the school nurses to let parents know about this requirement,” said IDPH Immunization Program Manager Bethany Kintigh. “Our local public health partners are doing campaigns gearing up for sports physicals in advance of school.”
To avoid mandating the vaccine for all students at once, the new rules will phase it in.
Seventh-graders born after September 15, 2004 will be required to show proof of one vaccine.
Twelfth- graders born after September 15, 1999 may have to show proof of two vaccines, depending on when they were received.
Many students will have already received the vaccine, so officials are not predicting any shortages.
“This vaccine is already routinely recommended in our 11 and 12 year old visit,” Kintigh said. “We know when we look at our national immunization survey, about 75% of Iowa adolescents 13-17 have already received the meningitis vaccination.”
Health experts say meningitis is a serious and potentially deadly bacterial disease. The vaccine has been recommended for pre-teenagers since 2005.
An information sheet on the department’s website says twelfth-graders who’ve received one of the two required shots will be given 60 days after school starts to receive the second vaccination.
But seventh-graders must have their one shot by the first day of school.
“There is no grace/extension period for the implementation of this requirement,” the department advises.