As the school year is fast approaching, seventh and 12th graders need to make sure their vaccine records are ready.

Seventh graders are required to have had a tetanus booster shot and a meningitis vaccine, and 12th graders need the meningitis booster shot. Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes surrounding your brain and spinal cord that can be caused by a viral infection, and can have severe complications such as seizures, kidney failure, and death.

Washington County Public Health Nurse Lynn Fisher shares research the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has gathered about meningitis, “Teens and adolescents are the carriers of meningitis, those are the groups that have the highest rates of meningitis. And meningitis is spread through saliva, respiratory droplets, and those are the ages that are really sharing lipsticks, sharing lip balms, sharing bottles of water. And tasting a drink you know, ‘Taste this, see what you think,’ sometimes sharing cigarettes, and that’s how meningitis is spread through these droplets of respiratory secretions or saliva.”

Washington County Public Health can help parents check their children’s vaccine records. If a child needs a vaccine, parents should contact their primary care provider or public health to schedule an appointment. Contact public health at 319-653-7758.