Don’t forget your shots

NeedleImmunizations have always been a vital part of maintaining a healthy environment for students on campus, but fast moving laws might have caught some students and school faculty off guard. Earlier this year, legislation was passed that required almost every student to be vaccinated against bacterial meningitis. The sweeping changes seemed to occur almost overnight after Texas A&M student, Nicolis Williams, contracted the preventable disease and died just days later.

Just one year earlier, University of Texas student, Jamie Schanbaum, was battling for her life with a deadly blood infection caused by the same bacteria that causes meningitis. While Jamie survived her battle with meningococcal septicemia, she spent half a year in a hospital and eventually lost both legs below the knees and multiple fingers.

Previously, the vaccine was required only for students who lived on campus, but now all students under the age of 30 must receive the vaccine prior to attending their first year at college. Texas is one of thirty states that have rolled out new laws requiring the vaccine. Each year approximately 2500 children and young adults, generally under the age of 22, contract a meningitis based illness. More than 10% of the cases result in death while almost a quarter of all survivors receive brain damage, hearing loss, or amputations from the disease.

The vaccine was in low supply earlier this year, but should now be readily available for all incoming 2012 students. Some schools are offering discounted pricing for students, but many were not prepared for the sudden law and did not budget the money needed to subsidize the immunization. Community clinics tend charge based on income thanks to state funding, but the vaccine cost itself can be quite expensive, ranging from $80-$140 dollars plus an administering fee.