ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A new law requires the meningococcal vaccine for all New York children entering 7th and 12th grades.

According to the New York State Department of Health, meningococcal disease is a rare but dangerous disease that strikes without warning. It can cause meningitis (an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) and sepsis (blood infections).

Health officials say even with treatment, an infection can lead to death within a few hours. In non-fatal cases, permanent disabilities can include loss of limbs, hearing loss and brain damage.

“Immunizing children and young adults at these ages is critical to protecting them from this potentially fatal and devastating disease,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker. “We are fortunate to have a vaccine for meningitis and urge parents to stay on top of their children’s vaccine requirements.”

New York joins 27 other states that currently requires the meningococcal vaccination for school attendance.

For more information contact the New York State Department of Health Bureau of Immunization’s School Assessment and Compliance Unit at (518)-474-1944 or by email as