BOISE, Idaho (Good Medical) – The Legislature Health and Welfare Committee of the Legislature is recommending the approval of a rule that adds a second dose of meningococcal vaccine to the list of mandatory vaccines at school.

Parents and legal guardians always have the opportunity to provide their children with the required vaccinations. Assistant State Epidemiologist Kathy Turner says the Ministry of Health and Welfare's new rule will help remind families to make sure their children are completely immune to the disease rare but often catastrophic.

Students who receive the meningococcal vaccine before the age of 16 must receive two doses of the vaccine to be fully immunized. Students who receive their first dose of the vaccine after reaching the age of 16, however, need only one dose.

The requirement comes into force for grade 12 students at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.

The vaccine protects against meningococcal disease, a serious disease that spreads through coughing, kissing, or prolonged contact. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meningococcal disease kills between 10 and 15 out of every 100 people on treatment, and many of those who survive will have hearing loss, brain damage, amputations or other medical conditions.

The proposed rule change was adopted 7-6 by the committee.

Rep. John Green, a Post Falls Republican, was among the "no's," saying he could not imagine a situation in which it would be appropriate for the government to impose a personal choice on health. The Idaho Falls Republican Representative, Bryan Zollinger, also voted no, after asking if the costs and risks of the vaccine would outweigh the benefits.

Representative Jarom Wagoner, a Republican from Caldwell and the vice-chair of the committee, voted yes, saying that the benefits of vaccination far outweighed the disadvantages. The chairman of the committee, Rep. Fred Wood, a retired Republican doctor from Burley, also voted in favor of the rule. Wood pointed out that the advent of vaccinations had resulted in one of the most significant life expectancy increases in the history of public health.