House Passes Legislation Aimed At Reducing Rate Of Meningitis
Legislation would expand immunization against meningococcal disease in schools

State Representative Robert Sprague (R-Findlay) applauded the passage of Senate Bill 121 through the Ohio House of Representatives. This legislation would require students of certain ages to be immunized against meningococcal disease.

Meningococcal disease can refer to any illness caused by the meningococcus bacteria. These illnesses are often severe and include infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord and bloodstream infections. According to the CDC, keeping up to date with recommended vaccines is the best defense against meningococcal disease.

“We can all be carriers of the bacteria that causes meningitis,” said Representative Sprague.  “The initial symptoms are similar to the symptoms of the flu, so it’s sometimes too late to treat the infection.  I commend Senator Hite for his leadership on Tessa’s law.”

Senate Bill 121 would require the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to specify the recommended age for compulsory pupil immunization against meningococcal disease and to approve the method of immunization. With certain exceptions, the pupils who are at least the ODH-recommended age for immunization will be immunized beginning with the 2016-17 school year.

The bill offers two exceptions to the meningococcal disease immunization requirements:

  1. The pupil presents a written statement in which the pupil’s parent or guardian declines to have the pupil immunized for reasons of conscience, including religious convictions.

  2. The pupil’s physician certifies in writing that immunization should not be used because it may be harmful to the pupil.

Senate Bill 121 passed with bipartisan support on the House floor and now awaits Governor Kasich’s signature.

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