TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale which would require the Departments of Health and Senior Services and Education to provide information to parents of students in grades 6-12 about meningococcal meningitis was unanimously approved by the Senate today.
“Meningitis is a killer, but it’s a killer that can be contained,” said Senator Vitale. “With the right information and precautions, parents can protect their kids against this deadly disease. Through early detection, the survival rate for meningitis increases dramatically.”
The bill, S-1461, would direct the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services to develop an educational fact-sheet on meningococcal meningitis. Beginning with the start of the 2006 school year, the Commissioner of Education would be required to distribute the fact-sheet to parents and guardians of students in grades 6 through 12, and would be required to distribute to parents of grade 6 students at the beginning of the 2007 school year. The fact-sheet would contain information about the disease, including causes, symptoms and the means of transmission of meningitis, the availability, effectiveness and risks of the meningitis vaccine, and where additional information can be obtained.
“The CDC (federal Centers for Disease Control) estimates the mortality rate to be around 12 % for kids 10 to 17, but jumps to 14% if you consider kids age 14 to 24,” said Senator Vitale. “We know for a fact that mortality is linked with age when it comes to meningitis. If we can let parents know at an early age what precautions they can take to protect their kids, we can hopefully get at the disease before it’s too late.”
Senator Vitale noted that the CDC recently recommended that adolescents receive vaccination at 11 or 12 years old, or before they enter high school.
The bill now heads to the Assembly for consideration.