August 10, 2015
young adults make final preparations for college, the physicians of the Texas Medical
Association (TMA) remind college-bound students to
put an important and
required vaccination on their to-do list. Texas law
requires almost all new and transfer students to be vaccinated against
bacterial meningitis at least 10 days before the semester begins or to show
proof of having received the vaccination within the past five years.
students are targeted for prevention of the devastating illness of
meningococcal infection because they are among those most at risk,” said Donald
K. Murphey, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Dell Children's Medical Center in Austin and a consultant to TMA’s Child
and Adolescent Health Committee.
Meningococcal disease affects people who live in close
quarters like dormitories, such as college students and military recruits.
Meningococcal disease is a potentially devastating bacterial infection that spreads
through coughing and sneezing, sharing drinks or utensils, and kissing or other
person-to-person contact. Preschool children also are at high risk, doctors
disease arises, it is often very severe,” said Dr. Murphey, “taking normal,
healthy young adults and in a matter of hours putting them at risk of
death.” After its initial flu-like symptoms, meningococcal disease kills
about 10 percent of sufferers even if they have begun to receive treatment ―
often within hours of the onset of symptoms. Dozens of patients contracted bacterial
meningitis last year, with adolescents and young adults being most susceptible.
Survivors can suffer
severe, lifelong complications. Dr. Murphey said those can include loss of
limbs, deafness, strokes, and organ failure.
good news is that vaccination works to prevent meningococcal disease. Doctors
believe that as many as four out of five of the adolescents and young adults
who contract the infection could have avoided it, had they been vaccinated. The
meningococcal vaccine protects against four of the five common strains of the
If a college
student’s vaccinations are up to date, most likely the student had a
meningococcal vaccination or booster, which is recommended for adolescents at
age 11 and 12. Protection from the vaccine lasts for several years but
typically not through the college years, so a second vaccination is needed at
age 16 to boost immunity. Students should check with their doctor to see if they
are up to date. Free and low-cost vaccinations may be available for teens and
young adults who don’t have health insurance.
has published a fact sheet about the importance of meningococcal
vaccination, in English and Spanish.
TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation,
representing more than 48,000 physician and medical student members. It is
located in Austin and has 110 component county medical societies around the
state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans.
TMA actively works to
improve immunization rates in Texas through its Be Wise — ImmunizeSM program. Be Wise works with local communities
to give free and low-cost shots to Texans, and educate people about the
importance of vaccination. More than 280,000 shots have been given to Texas
children, adolescents, and adults through the Be Wise program since 2004.
Contact: Brent Annear (512) 370-1381; cell: (512) 656-7320; email: brent.annear[at]texmed[dot]org
Marcus Cooper (512) 370-1382; cell: (512)
650-5336; email: marcus.cooper[at]texmed[dot]org
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