New immunization rule to protect students from Meningitis takes effect in 2020-21 school year

North Carolina
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) Effective August 1, a booster dose of meningococcal conjugant vaccine (MenACWY) is required for students entering the 12th grade in public, private, or religious schools in North Carolina.

Students who do not meet this requirement may not be allowed to attend school until they receive the booster dose.

The MenACWY vaccine helps protect against four common strains of meningococcal bacteria (A, C, W and Y) that cause diseases including infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream infections (bacteremia or septicemia).  

“The MenACWY vaccine is the best protection against meningococcal disease, which most often affects young people,” said Kelly Kimple, M.D., M.P.H., Chief of the Women’s and Children’s Health Section of the Division of Public Health. “It is vital that children and adolescents continue to receive all their immunizations on schedule to ensure they are fully protected against all vaccine-preventable diseases, including some of the major causes of meningitis.” 

All 11- through 12-year-old adolescents should receive one dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine.

A booster dose of MenACWY should be given at age 16 for adolescents entering the 12th grade or by 17 years of age, whichever comes first.

Adolescents who receive their first dose of MenACWY on or after their 16th birthday do not need a booster dose.

There are two age-appropriate vaccines that meet this requirement and provide the necessary protection, Menactra® and Menveo®.

If unsure, parents are urged to ask their child’s immunizing provider if they are properly protected, or if an additional vaccine is needed.

Governor Roy Cooper has proclaimed July as Adolescent Immunization Awareness Month in North Carolina.

For additional information on meningococcal disease and the updated meningococcal immunization (MenACWY) booster requirement, see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and our new fact sheet in English or en Español.

For more information on all vaccine requirements for 12th graders in North Carolina, go to www.immunize.nc.gov/schools

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