Texas Expands Vaccine Requirements For College Students

A few years ago, Texas lawmakers authorized a bill that requires all college students who live in on-campus dorms to get the meningitis vaccine.

Anna Draegsbeck is President of the Immunization Partnership. She says while that law was important, it didn't go far

"Nicholas Williams was a student up at A&M in College Station and he contracted bacterial meningitis and died from it. Had he taken the vaccine, he would be alive today. Nicholas was not living on campus, so the old law did not apply to him."

Draegsbeck says Nicholas Williams died within eight minutes of going to the emergency room.

The legislature changed the law so that all new students under the age of 30 must show proof of having the vaccine, regardless of where they live. Draegsbeck says bacterial meningitis is very rare, but it's difficult to diagnose and often gets confused with the flu. That's why she thinks the vaccination is so important.

"It's a vaccine like any other vaccine, it's usually administered in the arm. It's a very quick process. Your physician should have the vaccine, if he or she does not carry the vaccine they can probably tell you where to go to get it. Your insurance, if you have insurance, it should cover it."

The law will affect thousands of new students who enroll in the spring and fall, including students at two-year and community colleges. It won't apply to students who are already enrolled before January 1st.

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