GARRETT’S LAW (Senate Bill 444)
(Information about Flu, Meningitis, and HPV)
Garrett’s Law (Senate Bill 444) is a North Carolina statute enacted in 2004 that mandates that schools provide parents and guardians with information about meningococcal meningitis, influenza, and the vaccines that protect against these diseases. This law was expanded in 2007 to mandate that information also be provided about the human papillomavirus (HPV) and the vaccines available to protect against HPV.
Influenza (The Flu)
The flu (influenza) is a viral infection that can cause illness with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches, chills, fatigue, and headache. Sometimes, vomiting and/or diarrhea can occur, although they are not usually the primary symptoms. The flu is spread through respiratory droplets from a cough or a sneeze, or from droplets on unwashed hands.
It is important to protect yourself and others against the flu and other illnesses by doing the following:
- Wash hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water. If soap and water are not readily available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with tissues.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay away from people who are sick.
- Stay home from work or school until 24 hours fever-free (without the use of fever-reducing medications). The flu can be especially dangerous in people with chronic health conditions and people with lowered immunity.
- Get vaccinated against the flu. Contact your physician or local health department.
For more information and for educational materials about the flu, please go to http://www.immunizenc.com/FluSeason.htm
Meningitis is an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It can be caused by a virus or bacteria. Viral meningitis is more common, and people usually recover fully. Bacterial meningitis is rare, but much more serious. Meningococcal disease is a serious bacterial illness. It is the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children in the United States. Meningococcal disease can also cause blood infections.
Symptoms of bacterial meningitis include severe headache, high fever, nausea/vomiting, stiff neck, rash, fatigue, and confusion. Not all of these symptoms may be present. Meningitis is spread by close exchange of saliva and respiratory secretions. It can be spread through coughing, sneezing, kissing, and sharing items such as eating utensils, lip balms, drinks, and cigarettes. You can protect yourself against this disease and other illnesses by not sharing food items or utensils, by having good hand washing etiquette, and by covering coughs and sneezes, as stated above. Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent this disease. A vaccine against meningococcal meningitis, which is recommended for school-aged children, is available through the local health department or private physicians.
For more information and for educational materials about meningococcal meningitis, please go to http://www.immunizenc.com/Meningitis.htm
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
HPV is a common virus that is spread from one person to another by close intimate contact. It is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States. There are many different types of HPV that can infect both men and women, and can raise the risk of cervical cancer in women.
The virus lives in the body and usually causes no symptoms, but some types of HPV can cause visible growths or bumps on the genital area. Other types of HPV can lead to cervical cancer in women. Many people with HPV do not know they are infected, which is why it can be easily passed to others without realizing it. A vaccine is available which can protect females (ages 9-26) against 4 of the major types of HPV.
For more information and for educational materials about the human papillomavirus (HPV), please go to http://www.immunizenc.com/HPV.htm