June 28, 2016
college-bound students pack their bags to move into the dorm, the physicians of
the Texas Medical
Association (TMA) want to remind them about an important and
required vaccination. Texas law requires almost all new
and transfer college students under age 22 to be vaccinated against meningococcal
disease at least 10 days before classes begin, or to show proof of vaccination
within the previous five years.
infection spreads among people who live in close quarters, like a college dorm
or a military barracks, so college students need this vaccine,” said Carol J. Baker,
MD, of Houston, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and a member of TMA’s
Be Wise — ImmunizeSM Physician Advisory Panel.
Meningococcal disease includes infections of the brain’s
lining and spinal cord (meningitis) and the bloodstream (bacteremia or
septicemia) caused by the bacteria Neisseria
meningitidis, or meningococcus. A healthy, nonsusceptible person can spread
the bacteria to a healthy, susceptible person through coughing, sneezing,
sharing drinks or eating utensils, or kissing.
disease strikes quickly with fever, headache, severe muscle aches — and later, stiff
neck. The illness can seem like flu, but progresses with vomiting, weakness, mental
confusion, shock, and sometimes a purple rash on the extremities. Emergency
medical attention is important.
can become deadly in just a few hours,” said Dr. Baker. “With antibiotic
treatment, some sufferers can survive, but up to 15 percent have lasting
About one in
10 people who get meningococcal disease will die ― often within hours of the
onset of symptoms and the start of treatment. Survivors can suffer severe, lifelong complications, such
as hearing loss; amputations of fingers, toes or even arms or legs; and skin scarring.
good news is that vaccination can prevent meningococcal disease. As many as
four out of five adolescents and young adults who contract the infection could have
avoided it had they been vaccinated. The meningococcal vaccine protects against
the most common strains seen in the United States, namely groups A, C, W, and Y.
If an incoming
college student’s vaccinations are up to date, he or she likely had a
meningococcal vaccination at age 11 and 12. Protection from the vaccine lasts
for only several years, so a second vaccination is needed at age 16-18 to protect
young adults during the years when they are at highest risk for meningococcal
‘shot of prevention’ is an easy way to keep students healthy as they head off
to their first phase of adulthood,” said Dr. Baker.
check with their doctor to see if they are up to date with all recommended
vaccines. Free or 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.
best to check and get vaccinated now, doctors say, well before packing those
first items for college.
TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation,
representing more than 49,000 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 — Immunize is a service mark of the Texas Medical Association.
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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