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Effective January 1, 2014, all first-time college students and returning students under the age of 22 must be immunized against bacterial meningitis, according to the Jamie Schanbaum and Nicolis Williams Act.

All incoming freshmen, transfer students and returning students, following a break in enrollment of at least one fall or spring semester, will be required to show proof of immunization against bacterial meningitis.

Documentation showing that the student has received the immunization within the last five years must be provided at least 10 days prior to the first day of the semester in order to register for classes. Students must submit one of the following in order to be cleared for registration:

  • the signature or stamp of a physician (or his/her designee) or public health personnel on a form that shows the month, day and year the vaccination dose or booster was administered 
  • an official immunization record generated from a state or local health authority 
  • an official high school or college transcript that includes documentation of immunization provided by school officials (including records from other states)

After submitting proof of immunization, there will be a waiting period to allow for the processing of immunization information before a student will be cleared for registration.

The law does not apply to students: 

  • age 22 and over. 
  • enrolled only in Online Classes which does not include a face-to-face component. 
  • enrolled in Continuing Education courses or programs less than 360 contact hours or Continuing Education corporate training. 
  • enrolled in Dual Credit courses taught at a public or private K-12 facility. 
  • who submit an affidavit or a certificate signed by a physician who is duly registered and licensed to practice medicine in the United States, in which it is stated that, in the physician's opinion, the vaccination required would be injurious to the health and well-being of the student. 
  • who submit an affidavit signed by the student stating that the student declines the vaccination for bacterial meningitis for reasons of conscience, including religious belief. A conscientious exemption form ("Affidavit Request for Exemption from Immunizations for Reasons of Conscience") from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) must be used by students living in on-campus housing.  The DSHS form may be ordered electronically. Allow several weeks to submit and have form approved by the Texas Department of State Health Services.  Students NOT living in on-campus housing may use the official Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's form. Students must print the form, have it notarized, and file it with the Office of Admissions and Records.

 VC students who are required to have the vaccination will not be allowed to register until they provide proof of immunization to the Office of Admissions and Records.  

Getting the Immunization  

Students should get the bacterial meningitis vaccination from their primary care provider. If they do not have a health care provider then a community vaccinator like Walgreens or CVS is an alternative.

About Meningitis   

Bacterial meningitis is a serious, potentially deadly disease that can progress extremely fast. It is an inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. The bacteria that cause meningitis can also infect the blood. This disease strikes about 1 in 20,000 people each year with the highest incident rate in 16-25 year olds. There is a treatment, but those who survive may develop severe health problems or disabilities.

Symptoms of bacterial meningitis:

  • High fever 
  • Rash or purple patches on skin 
  • Light sensitivity 
  • Confusion and sleepiness 
  • Lethargy 
  • Severe headache 
  • Vomiting 
  • Stiff neck 
  • Nausea 
  • Seizures

There may be a rash of tiny red-purple spots caused by bleeding under the skin. These can occur anywhere on the body. The more symptoms, the higher the risk, so when these symptoms appear seek immediate medical attention.

Diagnosis is made by a medical provider and is usually based on a combination of clinical symptoms and laboratory results from spinal fluid and blood tests. Early diagnosis and treatment can greatly improve the likelihood of recovery.

The disease is transmitted when people exchange saliva (such as by kissing, or by sharing drinking containers, utensils, cigarettes, toothbrushes, etc.) or come in contact with respiratory or throat secretions.

Possible complications of the disease include:

  • Permanent brain damage 
  • Kidney failure 
  • Learning disability 
  • Hearing loss, blindness 
  • Death (in 8 to 24 hours from perfectly well to dead) 
  • Limb damage (fingers, toes, arms, legs) that requires amputation 
  • Gangrene 
  • Coma 
  • Convulsions

 The disease can be treated with antibiotics - which, if received early, can save lives and increase chances of recovery. However, permanent disability or death can still occur. The vaccines available are safe and highly effective.

You can get more information about bacterial meningitis from your health care provider. 

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