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New 2020 Vaccine Rule For NC High School Seniors

2020 will ring in a new vaccine requirement in North Carolina.  It's  the first ever targeting high school students. BPR’s Helen Chickering has details.

A recent immunization coalition meeting that included county health officials, providers and parents kicked off with a reminder about a new vaccine rule for 2020.  Rising high school seniors - or any student who is seventeen - will need a Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine ACWY (MCV4) booster when they enter school next fall.

“I don’t think they know they are going to have to do it!  What do you think?”

That’s coalition organizer and Buncombe County Clinical Services Director and Director of Nursing Ellis Vaughan, DNP, BSN, RN who spent the rest of the meeting working with the group on strategies to get the message out to communities. Vaughan says the 2020 booster rule is part of a 2015 requirement that targeted seventh graders.

“Within that new rule it also stated that when those students were rising student which will be in July 1 2020 they will be required to have a booster dose,” says Vaughan.   

Buncombe County Clinical Services Director and Director of Nursing Ellis Vaughan, DNP, BSN, RN talks about the 2020 Meningitis Vaccine Booster requirement at an Immunization Coalition meeting in Asheville.

The vaccine protects against four of the strains of bacteria that cause meningococcal disease which is spread person to person and can lead to meningitis an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, which while not common be deadly and debilitating, says chief of Mission Pediatrics Dr. Susan Mims.

“It can cause people to lose their limbs and it is just devastating when you see it, “ says Mims, “often times a completely healthy kid goes off to college, it is rare, but when it happens it is awful and it is preventable, that is the good news.”

A message public health officials hope will stick in the minds of high school students, parents and caregivers as they approach the 2020 school year.  I’m Helen Chickering, BPR News.   Click here for North Carolina Immunization requirements.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention teens and young adults are at an increased risk for meningococcal disease.  Meningococcal disease refers to any illness caused by bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis, also known as meningococcus. These illnesses are often severe and can be deadly. They include infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream infections (bacteremia or septicemia). Click here for more about signs and symptoms.

These bacteria spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions like spit (e.g., by living in close quarters, kissing). Doctors treat meningococcal disease with antibiotics, but quick medical attention is extremely important. Keeping up to date with recommended vaccines is the best defense against meningococcal disease.

Helen Chickering is a host and reporter on Blue Ridge Public Radio. She joined the station in November 2014.