Beginning Sept. 1, 2016, students entering seventh and 12th grades
must be vaccinated against meningococcal disease in order to attend
school in New York state.
The state Department of Health notified school districts on Nov.
24 that a new law, approved by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in October,
requires immunizations against meningococcal disease for children
at ages 11 or 12 and again at 16 years of age or older, as
recommended by the national Advisory Committee on Immunization
Practices. The law is scheduled to go into effect Sept. 1, 2016.
The New York State Department of Health plans to work with the New
York State Education Department and other partners to draft
regulations and create materials to help implement this new
requirement. Parents can anticipate more information about which
students will be affected by this law and any waiver options once
details become available.
Meningococcal disease is a severe bacterial infection that can
lead to meningitis (inflammation of the lining covering the brain
and spinal cord) and bloodstream infections such as septicemia.
Symptoms of the disease include a high fever, headache, vomiting,
a stiff neck and a rash. The meningococcus bacterium is treatable
with antibiotics, but each year it causes approximately 2,500
infections and 300 deaths in the United States. Those who contract
the disease may experience permanent brain damage, hearing loss,
kidney failure, loss of arms or legs, or chronic nervous system
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found the
highest rates of meningococcal disease to be among preteens,
teens, and young adults, as well as among infants with certain
medical conditions. The new law targets many in this age group and
aligns with the CDC’s recommendation to vaccinate 11- to
18-year-olds against meningococcal disease.
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