House committee endorses meningococcal vaccine for 12th-graders

A divided House Health and Welfare Committee endorsed a rule to add a second meningococcal vaccine to the state’s list of vaccines.

The state Department of Health and Welfare already recommends the meningococcal vaccine for seventh-graders. The rule would recommend another immunization in 12th grade.

Meningococcal vaccine is designed to prevent bacterial meningitis. “About one of every 10 people who get the disease dies from it,” according to the Centers for Disease Control. “Survivors of meningococcal disease may lose their arms or legs, become deaf, have problems with their nervous systems, become developmentally disabled, or suffer seizures or strokes.”

No immunization is truly required in Idaho. Parents can choose to opt their children out of immunizations — and Idaho’s opt-out rates are among the highest in the nation. In 2017-18, Idaho’s immunization opt-out rate was nearly 7 percent.

Even though the same opt-out rules would apply to the 12th grade immunization, the proposal passed on a narrow 7-6 vote.

And that vote, however narrow, probably is enough.

The immunization proposal is an administrative rule, not a bill. Under the Legislature’s byzantine review process, a rule that passes a House or Senate committee can go into effect — and carry the weight of law.

More on Thursday’s committee vote from Rebecca Boone of the Associated Press.



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