MURPHYSBORO, IL (KFVS) - The Jackson County Health Department wants to remind parents about a new vaccination requirement that goes into effect this year.
By law, all Illinois children entering the sixth and twelfth grades are now required to show proof of having received meningococcal vaccination.
This vaccination is important because meningitis is a serious bacterial illness, according to a news release from the health department. It can have devastating effects including the loss of limbs, neural impairment and death.
The disease is spread through the exchange of respiratory secretions and saliva. Activities such as kissing or sharing close living quarters can place someone at risk for getting meningitis.
At the Franklin-Williamson Bi-County Health Department, nurses say meningitis is spread through close contact.
"Kids share drinks, they share lockers, they share towels in the locker rooms, meningitis is a very contagious disease," immunization coordinator for the Franklin-Williamson Bi-County Health Department, Leah VanHam said.
VanHam said although meningitis is not seen often in Southern Illinois, having a vaccination is highly recommended.
"It's not that common in this area yet, but it can be and the results could be devastating," VanHam said.
VanHam stated the bacteria can cause loss of limbs, and effect organs, and possibly death.
The current requirement for this meningitis vaccination is one dose for children entering 6th grade and one for those entering 12th grade.
Next year, the requirement is that 12th graders have two doses.
The meningococcal vaccine can prevent four types of meningitis, including two of the three most common types in the United States.
For more information about the immunizations and services, parents may visit the Jackson County Health Department website or call (618) 684-3143 or visit the Williamson-Franklin Bi-County Health Department website or call (618) 993-8111