July 20, 2017
recent high-school graduates prepare to move into a college dorm, Texas
physicians remind them to make sure their vaccinations are up to date,
particularly one that is required for
college admission. Texas law requires almost all new and
transfer college students under age 22 to be vaccinated against meningococcal disease
caused by the most common types of bacteria — or “serogroups” A,C,W, and Y — at
least 10 days before classes begin.
“If your vaccinations are current
according to medical recommendations, you likely received your first dose of
the required vaccine at age 11 or 12 years because it is required for middle
school entry, and then got a booster at age 16 to provide protection through
college,” said Jane
Siegel, MD, Corpus Christi, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and chair
of the Texas Medical Association’s (TMA’s) Committee on Infectious Diseases.
Check your vaccination record to make
sure you had the two shots, said Dr. Siegel, because colleges
require entering students to show proof of vaccination within the previous five
students are at increased risk of meningococcal infection that can result in
very serious disease, including meningitis, and that can spread among people
who live in close quarters,” said Dr.
Siegel, who is a member of TMA’s
Be Wise — ImmunizeSM Physician Advisory Panel. “This germ is spread through respiratory
tract secretions, so living in close quarters like a dormitory increases the
likelihood of spread of this organism and is the reason for this mandate to
cover meningococcal types A, C, W, and Y.”
strikes alarmingly quickly with fever, headache, severe muscle aches, and stiff
neck. The symptoms can seem like flu but progress with vomiting, weakness, mental
confusion, shock, and sometimes a purple rash. Emergency medical
care is important because this illness can become deadly within hours.
Types of meningococcal disease include infections of the brain’s
lining and spinal cord (meningitis) and/or the bloodstream (bacteremia or
septicemia). Bacterial meningitis is a common term. The meningococcus bacteria spread
through coughing, sneezing, sharing drinks or eating utensils, or kissing.
relatively new vaccine can safely prevent infection caused by a different serotype
of the meningococcus organism, serotype B. This vaccine against serotype B is
not required at this time because the
infection is relatively rare. However, outbreaks of this infection have
occurred on a few college campuses in the United States. For that reason,
physicians and other health experts recommend families with 16- to 23-year-olds
discuss the meningococcal group B vaccine with their physicians to decide
whether to get this vaccine too.
Meanwhile, a shot to prevent cancer
to consider, said Dr. Siegel, is human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine — a shot
that can prevent cancers in men and women. “You may have gotten this vaccine at
a younger age, but if not, start the three-dose series before heading to school,
and complete the series at your college student health service,” she said. (Three
doses are required if you get your first shot at age 15 years or older; only
two doses are needed if you begin before age 15.)
she said, vaccines saves lives: “Immunizations are one of the 10 most important
public health advancements of the 20th century. So, it is best to prevent what
we can when safe and effective vaccines are available.”
who are 18 years of age should sign the consent form to keep their vaccination records in
the Texas state registry. Having vaccine data in the registry allows adults to
keep up with vaccinations throughout their lifetime.
“We know college
students move around and participate in all kinds of special programs in the
summer and throughout the year that require immunization records,” said Dr.
Siegel. “Having the data available in the state registry is convenient and will
allow you to get vaccine reports when you need them.”
has published a fact sheet about the importance of meningococcal
vaccination, in English and Spanish, as well as an infographic on HPV.
TMA is the largest state
medical society in the nation, representing more than 50,000 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 315,000
shots have been given to Texas children, adolescents, and adults through the Be
Wise program since 2004.
Be Wise — Immunize is a joint initiative led by TMA physicians, medical
students, and the TMA Alliance. It is funded by TMA Foundation thanks to major
gifts from H-E-B and TMF Health Quality Institute, along with generous
contributions from physicians and their families.
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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
with TMA on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
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