LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB) — Niagara County kids going into either seventh or twelfth grade are now required to get a meningitis vaccination before starting school.
The new requirement was announced by the Niagara County Department of Health on Monday.
“All kids entering 7th or 12th grade must have received a shot of meningitis vaccine before September 1st this year,” Department Director Daniel Stapleton said. “Without proof of vaccination, they will not be allowed to start school. This is a new requirement, even though meningitis vaccine has been recommended for over a decade. Meningococcal bacterial meningitis can strike without warning. It is dangerous and often deadly. Let’s work together to protect our children. Meningococcal meningitis vaccination saves lives. “Every time we lose a child to a vaccine preventable disease like meningitis, it hurts our whole community. Avoid delays in starting school. Call your child’s provider now.”
Children who had the vaccine in sixth grade are clear to start school, but like the seventh graders, must get another dose of the vaccine before twelfth grade. Teens who received their first dose on or after their 16th birthday will not need a second dose before twelfth grade.
Meningococcal disease is rare, and can strike “healthy young people without warning,” according to the department. Although it can be treated with antibiotics, 10-15 percent of people who contract the disease die. An additional 10-20 percent survive, but with lifelong disabilities like brain damage, hearing loss, or loss of limbs.
The way the disease can be spread is through sneezing, coughing, kissing, or sharing cups. Its early symptoms are similar to that of the flu.
Even though it can affect all ages, teenagers and young adults are at a higher risk of getting meningitis.