The Texas law requiring college students to have meningitis shots changed the maximum required age to 21. It was formerly 29.
Senate Bill 62 went into effect Oct. 1 and made the age limit on getting a meningitis shot lower.
“Because of the age requirement change, from a business perspective, the new law will allow a decrease in the amount of business management and man hours it takes to process student information,” Sarah Hanel, director of the Student Health Center said.
Donna Artho, assistant vice president of intuitional effectiveness at Sam Houston State University, explained the need for this state law.
“There was an emphasis on the ongoing need to protect students who live on and off campus from the disease without creating an obstacle to their enrollment,” Artho said.
Artho said that an online state-wide reporting tool for community colleges was created to allow students who often enrolled on short notice to meet the requirements without facing the delay associated with obtaining forms from the Texas Department of State Health Services.
The change in the age brought the Texas law in alignment with the age at which risk for infection is highest according the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Artho said.
“The change expands the number of students who are automatically exempt from the requirement to show proof of vaccination within the past five years,” Artho said. “Due to the decrease in the number of incoming university and community college students across the state who will need a booster in order to enroll, it is estimated that previous shortages of the vaccine in various areas of the state will be unlikely.”
The CDC said that bacterial meningitis is usually severe.
“While most people with meningitis recover, it can cause serious complications, such as brain damage, hearing loss or learning disabilities,” the CDC said.
The CDC says that the most effective way to prevent against meningitis is to complete the recommended vaccine schedule.
Symptoms of meningitis include a sudden onset of fever, a headache and a stiff neck. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, and confusion
According to the CDC, about 4,100 cases of bacterial meningitis, including 500 deaths, occurred each year between 2003 and 2007 in the United States.