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Meningitis vaccines now required for students in grades 7 through 12

ALBANY - Students entering seventh and 12th grade in New York now will have to receive meningitis vaccinations, under a new law signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

The measure requires students in those grades to get vaccinated by Sept. 1, 2016. Previously, meningitis vaccinations were recommended but not required in New York.

More than 20 other states require the vaccinations, according to the law's legislative sponsors, state Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) and Assemb. Aileen Gunther (D-Forestburgh). According to a memo they submitted with the legislation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that roughly 1,000 to 1,200 people contract meningococcal disease every year in the United States, and between 10 and 15 percent of these cases are fatal.

Among the supporters were groups that advocate for AIDS/HIV patients, such as the Gay Men's Health Crisis, whose chief executive, Kelsey Louie, said the new law "will save lives from this silent killer."

On the other side, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. had traveled to Albany last spring to urge legislators to oppose the proposal.

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