THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

National Meningitis Association backs New York vaccination bills

The National Meningitis Association (NMA) announced its support on May 22 of pending legislation in New York that would require parents to immunize their children against meningococcal disease.

The bills, proposed by state Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Nassau County) and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther (D-Sullivan County), call for all sixth graders in New York to receive a vaccination, with a booster shot in eleventh grade. The law would align New York with a CDC recommendation that children aged 11-12 receive an initial meningitis vaccination, with another shot at 16.

"We believe the proposed legislation is a significant step forward in protecting adolescents against this terrible disease," NMA President Lynn Bozof said. "Research shows adolescents are at increased risk for meningococcal disease, and if passed, this legislation will help protect against the majority of meningococcal disease cases among this age group."

Bacterial meningitis can come on quickly and kill a patient within hours. While most patients recover, the illness can cause brain damage, hearing loss or learning disabilities. Early meningitis symptoms include fever, headache, stiff neck and sensitivity to light.

Although adolescents and young adults are at increased risk of catching the disease, meningitis affects people of all ages. Vaccines available in the U.S. protect against four of the five known strains of meningococcal disease.

NMA provides educational and other services to the public and medical professionals regarding meningococcal disease.