This fall kids entering 6th grade are required to get a vaccine to protect against meningitis. The change in vaccine requirements for 6th graders results from a bill passed by the 2016 legislature.
Colleen Winter is with the South Dakota Department of Health.
“We’ve been requiring vaccinations for kindergarten children for many years but have never had any mandates for our middle school kids. Meningococcal disease is a bacterial infection that inflames issues that cover the brain and the spinal cord. And while it’s not real common, 10-14% of the people who get it can die from it and 19-20% of survivors usually suffer from some sort of permit disability,” says Winter.
Winter says meningococcal infection can spread from close contact with someone who has it. She says this puts teens and young adults at increased risk. In South Dakota slightly over half of young adults ages 13-17 are vaccinated against meningitis. Winter says for 11-12 year olds, that number is much lower.
“We are hopeful that as parents hear about the requirement for 6th graders that they’ll be talking to their providers and other teens who may not have been vaccinated and get them vaccinated as well, but we will only be requiring it for 6th grade entry,” says Winter.
Winter says many clinics are already providing the vaccine.
To view all 6th grade requirements, click here.