WOODBURY - Starting this school year, every child entering seventh and 12th grade in New York is required to have the meningococcal vaccination.

The vaccine is available at Nassau University Medical Center and pediatric offices across Long Island. It's also covered by most insurance companies. Those without insurance can still get vaccinated for free under a state program.

The state's call for a mandatory meningitis vaccine was sparked by the death of 17-year-old Kimberly Coffey, of Massapequa Park. She died in 2012 shortly before her senior prom.

Parents can opt out of the vaccine if they receive a religious or medical exemption.

Students will have a two-week grace period from the start of the school year to get their vaccinations.

Meningitis can be transferred through saliva, sharing drinks, utensils and kissing.