still has high risk factors
university does not require vaccination for meningitis,
although doctors recommend students get it.
College students are increasingly at risk for meningitis
and the risk is six times greater among students in
dormitories, particularly freshmen.
And while there is a vaccine against the disease, it
is not mandatory at TCU, although many doctors believe
it should be.
If my kids were college freshmen, Id have
them get the vaccine, said Burton Schwartz, a
doctor at the Health Center.
The vaccine, which is given daily at the Health Center,
costs $85, which Schwartz said is considerably less
than the average doctor charges for the vaccine.
Its about the best $85 a college freshman
could spend, Schwartz said.
Schwartz said the vaccine is mandatory at Tulane University
for students living on campus because there was an outbreak
a few years ago and a student died from the disease.
TCU, like Southern Methodist University, Baylor and
the University of North Texas, does not require the
vaccine, but is required by the Texas Board of Health
to inform students of potential dangers of meningitis.
Don Mills, vice chancellor for student affairs, said
while the university recommends that students get the
shot, the university leaves the choice to them.
Do we wish that every student had it? Yes,
he said. But we dont have the mechanism
necessary to verify that the students have it, and we
feel that ultimately, its a family medical decision.
Nemati, a sophomore biology major, said that while there
are many deadly diseases for which vaccines are not
required, this one is different because of the higher
risk factor for college students.
I think we should be required to get the vaccine
because it is deadly and because college students have
a higher risk of getting it, Nemati said. I
dont want TCU to have a similar experience to
Studies done by the American College Health Association
show meningitis is increasing among college students.
It is a rare but potentially deadly disease and is especially
prevalent among college freshmen, the ACHA said.
Research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
show that the risk for bacterial meningitis is six times
higher for freshmen living in dormitories than college
TCU requires incoming students to get a rubella vaccination
and a skin test for TB, but many doctors believe the
meningitis vaccine should also be a requirement because
of the increased risk to freshmen.
Research data indicate exposure to passive and active
smoking, bar patronage and excessive alcohol consumption
may put college students at an increased risk.
meningitis is highly contagious and is transferred by
close contact, such as drinking from the same glass,
sharing cigarettes, kissing or coughing.
Once the virus is spread, it can result in permanent
brain damage, hearing loss, learning disability, limb
amputation, kidney failure or death. The bacterial disease
is strongest in late winter and early spring.
Early symptoms of bacterial meningitis include high
fever, severe headache, stiff neck, rash, nausea, vomiting
and lethargy, and may resemble the flu.
The disease progresses rapidly, so a quick diagnosis
is crucial in treatment.
Schwartz said the disease is very rare, but devastating.
Its not an everyday occurrence, thank God,
but when it happens, its dramatic to the patient
and the patients contacts, and it creates panic,