Looking for something to do this Spring Break? Get a shot.

The Polk County Health Department is encouraging all students entering 7th and 12th grades in the fall of 2018 to have a meningitis vaccine now, before health clinic schedules begin to fill up. The law requires students to have the vaccine before they attend school, sports and school-related activities starting on day one of the school year.

Meningitis is a life-threatening illness transmitted among teenagers.

Read on to learn more from the Polk County Health Department about this relatively new state requirement.

Last year, the Iowa Department of Public Health, Bureau of Immunization issued a new vaccine rule that requires all students entering or transferring into 7th grade and born after September 15, 2004 to show vaccine documentation of having received the meningococcal vaccine. All students entering or transferring into the 12th grade and born after September 15, 1999, will need to show vaccine documentation of two doses of the meningococcal vaccine or one dose if received when the child was 16 years of age or older.

Meningococcal disease is a very serious, potentially life-threatening disease.  The meningococcal vaccine is 85 – 100 percent effective at preventing infection from the subtypes of meningococcus found in the vaccine.

Please check your child’s immunization records. By law, if your 7th grader or 12th grader is not fully immunized for meningitis, they will not be allowed to attend school, sports and school-related activities starting day one of the 2018 – 2019 school year. If your student has not had the required vaccine, please set up an appointment with a doctor to get their vaccines up-to-date as soon as possible, and before the 2018–2019 school year.

Spring break is a perfect opportunity to get your child caught up on the meningitis vaccine and all other required and recommended vaccines. During the summer, back-to-school and sports physicals fill up fast and your child may not be able to see their provider in time. If you do not have health insurance and a doctor, please reach out to your school nurse for assistance.