Texas State Law Mandating the Meningitis Vaccine

The Facts:

  • Bacterial meningitis, sometimes referred to as spinal meningitis, is a disease that causes inflammation and swelling of the protective membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.
  • The infection is contagious and is spread through close contact (common in on-campus living arrangements) or the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions (such as coughing, kissing, or sharing a glass or cigarette).
  • The infection is characterized by a sudden onset of fever, headache, and stiff neck. It is often accompanied by other symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, photophobia (sensitivity to light), and an altered mental state.
  • Currently, there are two vaccines licensed in the US to protect against meningitis: Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine (MCV4) and Meningococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine (MPSV4). Both vaccines can prevent four types of Meningococcal disease, including 2 of the 3 most common types in the US and the type that causes epidemics in Africa. Both vaccines are highly effective, protecting about 90% of those who are vaccinated; however, MCV4 provides longer-lasting protection and is also better at preventing the disease from spreading from person to person.

The Impact:

  • In November 2008, Jamie Schanbaum, a University of Texas at Austin student, contracted bacterial meningitis while living on-campus. When she arrived at Seton Hospital, just a few hours after the onset of her symptoms, Jamie’s kidneys had already stopped working and other organs were beginning to fail. Two short days after being admitted to the hospital, Jamie’s doctors had no other choice but to place her into a coma and onto a ventilator. Eventually, six of Jamie’s fingers and both of her legs had to be amputated in order to save her life.
  • In February 2011, Nicolis Williams, a junior at Texas A&M University, died of bacterial meningitis. He started to complain about flu-like symptoms on Monday, was taken to the hospital on Tuesday, and died Friday of the same week. At the time of his diagnosis, the “Jamie Schanbaum State law,” requiring the Meningococcal vaccine for first-time students residing in school housing, did not apply to Williams because he lived off-campus.

The Law:

  • Senate Bill 1107, expanding the meningitis vaccine requirement to those living off-campus, was filed by TX State Senator, Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth), and sponsored by State Representative Charlie Howard (R-Sugar Land).
  • On May 27, 2011, Governor Rick Perry signed the Jamie Schanbaum and Nicolis Williams Act into law, requiring all new and transferring college students under the age of 30 to be vaccinated for bacterial meningitis as of January 1, 2012.
  • A student is not required to submit evidence of receiving the vaccination against bacterial meningitis or evidence of receiving the booster dose if:
      1. He or she is 30 years of age or older by the first day of the start of the semester; or
      2. He or she is enrolled only in online or other distance education courses; or
      3. He or she is enrolled in a dual credit course which is taught at a public or private K-12 facility not located on a higher education institution campus; or
      4. He or she is enrolled in a continuing education course or program that is less than 360 contact hours, or continuing education corporate training; or
      5. He or she is incarcerated in a Texas prison.

The Solution:

  • Magnus Health’s web-based, student medical record (SMR) communicates directly with students via email, notifying them of the new meningitis vaccine requirement. Students will receive weekly email reminders until they have fulfilled the requirement, according to school and state standards.
  • Once a student submits the required documentation online, showing that they’ve received the meningitis vaccine, Magnus Health utilizes licensed registered nurses to review each student’s medical records, ensuring that they meet school and state standards.
  • In the event of a meningitis outbreak on campus, the Magnus Health SMR enables schools to notify students of the outbreak via email. This email can be sent to every student or just those that have not completed their vaccination requirement.

January 1, 2012 is approaching fast. Is your school prepared to handle the new meningitis vaccine requirement?