Introduced by Representative Pugh of South Burlington
Subject: Health; meningococcal meningitis; immunization
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to promote education and informed decision‑making regarding immunization against meningococcal meningitis.
AN ACT RELATING TO IMMUNIZATION AGAINST MENINGOCOCCAL MENINGITIS
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec 1. FINDINGS
The general assembly makes the following findings:
(1) Meningococcal meningitis is a serious disease which can lead to death within only a few hours of onset, is fatal in one in ten cases, and leaves one in seven survivors with a severe disability such as loss of limb, cognitive deficits, paralysis, deafness, and seizures.
(2) Persons residing in dormitory-like residences are at heightened risk to contract meningococcal meningitis, and children residing in camps share characteristics with populations which have been scientifically shown to be at heightened risk of exposure.
(3) Meningococcal meningitis outbreaks cause significant alarm and confusion in the communities in which they occur.
(4) The risk presented by meningococcal meningitis requires those individuals at risk to make an informed choice regarding immunization.
(5) The educational and decision‑making processes warranted by meningococcal meningitis are not applicable to situations in which the risks require mandatory immunization.
Sec. 2. 18 V.S.A. § 12 is added to read:
§ 12. IMMUNIZATION AGAINST MENINGOCOCCAL MENINGITIS
(a) As used in this section, unless the context requires otherwise:
(1) “Student” means a person attending an institution and, in the case of a student attending college, “student” means a person who is registered to attend or who attends classes at an institution, who is enrolled for at least six semester hours or the equivalent per semester or at least four semester hours per quarter.
(2) “Institution” means an academy or college, or a children’s overnight camp where the person attending such camp remains overnight for a period of not fewer than seven days.
(3) “Immunization” means an adequate dose or doses of an immunizing agent against meningococcal meningitis which meets the standards approved by the United States public health service for such biological products and which is approved by the commissioner of health.
(b) Each institution shall distribute, in a form provided or approved by the commissioner, written information about meningococcal meningitis and meningitis immunization to all students. The information provided by the institution shall include:
(1) a description of the disease and means of transmission;
(2) the benefits, risks, and effectiveness of immunization; and
(3) the availability and cost of immunization, including an indication of whether the institution offers meningococcal meningitis immunization services.
(c) Each institution shall also distribute, in a form provided or approved by the commissioner, a response form, to be completed by the student or, where the student is under the age of 18 years, the student’s parent or guardian, which shall include the following:
(1) the student, or if under the age of 18 years, the parent or guardian of the student, certifies that the student already has received immunization against meningococcal meningitis within the two years preceding the date of the response form; and
(2) the student, or if under the age of 18 years, the parent or guardian of the student, has received and reviewed the information provided by the institution, understands the risks of meningococcal meningitis and the benefits of immunization, and has decided that the student shall not obtain immunization against meningococcal meningitis. The student, or if under the age of 18 years, the parent or guardian of such student, shall indicate his or her decision in a box or space placed appropriately on the form and shall return the completed form to the institution. Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to prohibit an institution from incorporating the form required by this subdivision into another health certificate or form required by the institution.
(d) Each institution shall maintain completed response forms.
(e) No institution shall permit any student to attend the institution in excess of 30 days without complying with this section; provided, however, that such 30‑day period may be extended to not more than 60 days if a student can show a good faith effort to comply with this section.
(f) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit institutions from adopting or maintaining more stringent policies regarding immunization against meningococcal meningitis.
(g) The commissioner shall develop a public outreach program designed to provide all Vermont parents with information related to meningococcal meningitis, including the benefits, risks, and effectiveness of immunization.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street