State health department changing immunization requirements for high school seniors

The Indiana State Department of Health is revising the immunization requirements for high school seniors to better protect older kids from getting meningitis when they go to college.

Beginning this fall, incoming seniors should receive a vaccine for Meningococcal B (MenB) in addition to the required Meningococcal (MCV4) vaccine, as recommended by the state health department.

The following year, 2018-19, two doses of the MenB vaccine will be required for all seniors enrolled in a state-accredited high school.

According to state code, students must have the required vaccines to attend school, unless they have a medical or religious exemption filed with the school nurse each year.

The changes were announced Nov. 28 and schools were notified by letter Friday. Schools are required to report all students’ immunization information to the state immunization data registry by Feb. 3.

According to the current immunization schedule, students must get their first dose of MCV4 when they are in Grades 6 through 11 and then another dose in 12th grade, unless they received the first dose after they turned 16. Only one dose is needed in that case, according to the state health department.

The MCV4 vaccine protects against four strains of the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease. Such infections don’t happen often but can be very dangerous when they do.

Vaccines are available at the Jackson County Health Department, through a family doctor, the Community Health Center of Jackson County and in some cases at local pharmacies.

Read the full story in Wednesday’s Tribune and online at tribtown.com.