State Legislative Efforts on Meningococcal Vaccines

April 27, 2017|3:00 p.m.| KT Kramer

Monday was World Meningitis Day, a global effort to recognize the consequences of meningitis, an inflammation of the brain’s tissue and stem, as well as strategies to prevent it. In the United States, meningitis is often the result of a meningococcal infection caused by Neisseria meningitidis bacteria. Meningococcal infection poses a 10-15 percent fatality rate, with one out of every five survivors facing permanent disabilities, including brain damage, hearing loss, and amputations. Meningitis most commonly impacts children under the age of one, and adolescents and young adults between 16 and 23.

For children between the ages of 11 and 12, CDC recommends vaccinations against several strains of meningococcal bacteria, with a booster shot at the age of 16. Currently, at least 27 states include the initial vaccine dose in their mandatory school vaccination schedules. However, only 13 require a booster shot. Additionally, Massachusetts and Vermont only require vaccinations for boarding school students, and five states require schools or health departments to share information about the risks of meningococcal infection and the benefits of vaccinations to encourage vaccination. To increase vaccination rates among college students, 17 states require that incoming students be vaccinated against meningococcal infection, and at least 20 states require that information about the benefits of vaccination be shared with incoming college students. 

4-27-17 KT Kramer article image Meningococcal Vaccine Data Small

However, there is variation in the scope of these requirements. For example, in Kansas, vaccinations are required only for students who live on campus, and in Virginia, the requirement only applies to public universities. The chart below summarizes state-wide policies requiring meningococcal vaccinations.

To see how state policymakers are addressing school vaccination requirements in legislative sessions, visit ASTHO’s real-time legislative tracking website. Seven states currently have bills and resolutions related to meningococcal vaccinations.