State health officials are giving Iowa families a heads-up about a new vaccination requirement for students going back to school next month.

Under a new state law, a meningitis shot will be required for students entering 7th and 12th grades. Bethany Kintigh manages the Immunization Program at the Iowa Department of Public Health.

“We have been working to notify all of the health care providers in Iowa and working with the school nurses to let parents know about this requirement,” Kintigh says. “A lot of our local public health partners are doing campaigns gearing up for sports physicals in advance of school.” The vaccine has been recommended for pre-teenagers since 2005 and she does not anticipate any shortages. Students entering those grades will be required to show proof of the meningitis vaccination and Kintigh says many students have already gotten the shots.

“This vaccine is already routinely recommended in our 11- and 12-year-old visit,” she says, “so we know when we look at our national immunization survey, about 75% of Iowa adolescents 13-to-17 have already received the meningitis vaccination.” Kintigh says meningitis is a serious and potentially-deadly bacterial disease.

(By Joyce Russell, Iowa Public Radio)