Bacterial meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. The illness can progress rapidly and cause death or permanent disabilities, such as hearing loss, brain damage, or loss of limbs. Studies suggest that college students have a slightly higher risk of contracting the illness because they live and work in close proximity.
As of Jan. 1, 2012, State law mandates that first-time college students, students transferring from another institution and students who are re-enrolling following an absence of at least one fall or spring semester who are under 30 as of the first class day of the term be vaccinated against the illness. Students under 30 who plan to audit a course also must comply with the law, SB 1107 passed during the 82nd Legislative Session.
It is imperative that students who plan to enroll in college be vaccinated as soon as possible. Under the law, students subject to the meningitis requirement must have received the vaccine within the past five years. Proof of vaccination is required 10 days before the first class day for the term, as the vaccine is considered effective several days after it is administered.
The vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – MCV4 and MPSV4 – offer protection against meningitis groups A, C, Y, and W-135. Currently MCV4 and MPSV4 vaccines are the only vaccines accepted under state law.
Kathy Powell RN, BSN, MS, NCSN
Texas School Nurses Organization President