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No Shot, No School: The New Iowa Meningococcal Vaccine Requirement

Did you know there is a new school requirement for meningococcal vaccine in Iowa?

If you didn’t know about the requirement, you’re in the right place to learn more! Dr. Chris Etscheidt explains meningococcal disease and the new school requirements for students entering 7th and 12th grades.

Meningococcal Vaccine

The 2015 National Immunization Survey (NIS) showed only 75 percent of Iowa adolescents ages 13-17 had received one dose of MenACWY (national average 81.3 percent). Because of this, the State of Iowa passed new legislation in April 2017, requiring MenACWY vaccine for all students enrolling in 7th and 12th grades. The following summarizes these changes effective for the 2017-18 school year:

  • 1 dose of MenACWY vaccine received on or after 10 years of age for grades 7 and above, if born after September 15, 2004
  • 2 doses of MenACWY for grade 12, if born after September 15, 1999
  • 1 dose of MenACWY if received when applicants are 16 years of age or older
  • MenB is not required

Find more information and materials regarding the new requirements along with frequently asked questions from The Iowa Department of Public Health Immunization Program

What is meningococcal disease?

Meningococcal disease is caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis. There are 6 different types of this bacteria (A, B, C, W, X, Y) that are responsible for serious human disease. It is spread through respiratory secretions, but is not nearly as contagious as many common cold viruses. A small number of people carry this bacteria naturally in their nose and throat without issue, but it can cause severe illness in some. It can cause infection of the fluid and lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis), as well as bloodstream infection. These illnesses can be devastating, often occurring rapidly and unexpectedly in otherwise healthy individuals. Even with treatment, 10-15 percent of people with meningococcal disease will die from it. Those that survive can suffer disabilities, including: brain damage, hearing loss, amputations, and kidney problems.

Why is vaccination required?

As a result of vaccination, meningococcal disease is currently at an all-time low in the United States. There are two types of meningococcal vaccines given to children in the United States: those that protect against types A, C, W and Y (MenACWY) and those that protect against type B (MenB). A two-dose series of MenACWY is recommended by both the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for all preteens and teens. The first dose is given at age 11-12 years, followed by a booster dose at age 16. As protection decreases over time, the booster dose provides enhanced immunity during the time when adolescents and young adults are at most risk.

The MenB vaccine is only recommended for groups with certain health problems that put them at high risk of developing meningococcal disease. MenB is NOT routinely recommended for low-risk individuals. However, it can still be given at 16-18 years to provide short-term protection against type B should a patient, their family, and their doctor feel it would be in their best interest.

MenACWY vaccine is recommended for all adolescents and young adults because of the increased chance of having meningococcal disease from these types in college students. 

Meningococcal Vaccine

Contact your child’s doctor if you have further questions about MenB or the new school meningococcal vaccination requirement.

Remember to schedule your student’s physical this summer and make sure their vaccinations are up to date prior to the new school year!

Meningococcal VaccineResources:

“Meningococcal Disease.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 Mar. 2017. Web. 08 June 2017.

“For Parents: Vaccines for Your Children.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 02 Dec. 2015. Web. 08 June 2017.

 “Serogroup B Meningococcal Vaccine (MenB) VIS.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9 Aug. 2016. PDF.

“Meningococcal ACWY Vaccines (MenACWY and MPSV4) VIS.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 31 Mar. 2016. PDF.

“Recommendations for Serogroup B Meningococcal Vaccine for Persons 10 Years and Older.” Pediatrics 138.3 (2016)

“Bureau of Immunization & TB.” Iowa Immunization Requirements. Iowa Department of Public Health, Web. 08 June 2017.

Dr. Chris Etscheidt Meningococcal VaccineAbout Dr. Chris Etscheidt 

Dr. Chris Etscheidt is a pediatrician at Mercy Clinics Pediatrics Waukee. He is accepting new patients and appointments can be scheduled by calling (515) 643-7090.


This is the 7th in the healthcare series from Mercy Des Moines. Find the rest of the posts below:

Why Kids Get Tummy Aches

Should You Delay Your Baby’s First Bath?

The Importance of a Hospital with an Emergency OB Department

Pregnancy and Birthing Classes: an Education for Two!

Tips for Avoiding Head and Brain Injuries in Children

Why You Should Consider a Midwife for Obstetric Care

This sponsored post is brought to you in collaboration with Mercy Des Moines.

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2 Responses to No Shot, No School: The New Iowa Meningococcal Vaccine Requirement

  1. Lori H. July 19, 2017 at 12:39 am #

    No Shots – No school – NOT TRUE

    Iowa has a religious exemption available to parents who want to opt their kids out of vaccinations.

    The paperwork is available from vaclib.org, the school nurse or the public health department.

    • Andrea Cooley July 19, 2017 at 3:49 pm #

      Thank you for your response. We appreciate your opinion.

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