Ohio schoolchildren will have to be vaccinated against meningococcal meningitis after Governor John Kasich signed into law Senate Bill 121 Thursday. The bill and now law was introduced by State Senator Cliff Hite (R-Findlay).

Image/Office of Ohio Governor John R. Kasich
Image/Office of Ohio Governor John R. Kasich

Sponsored by Senator Hite, Senate Bill 121 works in conjunction with the Ohio Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Immunization Advocacy Network of Ohio to require students of ages recommended by the Ohio Department of Health to be immunized against meningococcal disease. The new requirements will be effective for the 2016-17 school year.

The law recommends vaccinating children against meningitis at ages 11-12, with a booster at age 16. This vaccination schedule prepares students for the high-risk environments of high school and college.

The law protects a parent’s right to opt their children out of the immunizations for matters of conscience, including religious beliefs.

“This law protects Ohio’s children and families from preventable deaths,” said Hite. “No parent or family member should ever have to suffer the loss of a child to this terrible disease. This law has the potential to save lives.”

Last year the Ohio Senate honored the memory of Senator Hite’s niece, Tess, by marking March 9th as “Meningitis Awareness Day.” Tess passed away within hours of contracting meningitis.

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