Meningitis vaccination required for incoming college students

After the death of a Texas A&M student last February, the Texas Legislature passed a law requiring all incoming college students to get the meningococcal vaccine.

Meningitis is the inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It can be caused by infectious agents like viruses and bacteria. Health officials say the disease is more common among college students because they live within close proximity of one another.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, ten percent of people affected by the disease die.

Before the death of Nicolis Williams, the law required only those students living on campus to be vaccinated. Now, the shot is required for all students.

"Our approach here at WT is that we're requiring for students to have it prior to enrollment, which would then take care of it if they're living on campus," WTAMU Director of Admissions Shawn Thomas stated. "Students that are in early registration- we're requiring for them to have it then."

According to Thomas, many universities are trying to find a way to conveniently implement the law to students. Though he said he feels the law is a good idea, Thomas also pointed out there is a negative in it.

"Part of that challenge is it creates another barrier for enrollment," he said. "It's one more thing that students have to do."

There are some exemptions from the law- students who are over the age of 30, students taking online classes only and students with conscientious objections. All exemptions must be approved through the university.

The meningococcal vaccination is offered at the WT clinic and some local pharmacies. Some local family physicians also provide it.