The governor of Texas signed The Jamie Schanbaum Act, H.B. No. 4189, in June, 2009. (Sec. 51.9192 of the Education Code was added and requires meningococcal vaccination for all new and transfer students.
The following information is provided by the American College Health Association with minor changes and added specifics for Sul Ross State University students.
1. What is meningococcal disease?
Meningococcal disease is a rare, but potentially fatal, bacterial infection, and most commonly leads to meningitis, an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, or meningococcal septicemia, an infection of the blood.
2. Who is at risk of getting meningococcal disease?
Crowded living situations, bar patronage, active or passive smoking, irregular sleep patterns, and sharing of personal items increases a college student 's chances of acquiring the meningococcal disease.
In addition, persons with immature or damaged immune systems and persons with respiratory tract infections are at increased risk of getting the disease. Certain genetic factors also increase the risk of infection.
3. How many college students are affected by meningococcal disease?
Approximately 100 to 125 cases of meningococcal disease occur on college campuses each year, and five to 15 students will die as a result.
4. How is meningococcal disease spread?
Meningococcal disease is spread person-to-person through the air by respiratory droplets (e.g., coughing, sneezing). The bacteria also can be transmitted through direct contact with an infected person, such as oral contact with shared items like cigarettes or drinking glasses, and through kissing.
5. What are the symptoms of meningococcal disease?
Symptoms of meningococcal disease often resemble those of the flu or other minor febrile illnesses making it sometimes difficult to diagnose. Symptoms may include high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, rash or purple patches on skin, nausea, vomiting, lethargy, confusion, sleepiness, sensitivity to light and/or seizure activity.
Students who notice these symptoms in themselves, friends or others should contact their college health service or hospital immediately.
6. What are the complications of meningococcal disease?
If not treated early, meningococcal disease can lead to death (in 8 to 24 hours from perfectly well to dead) or permanent disabilities. One in five of those who survive will suffer long-term side effects such as coma, brain damage, hearing loss, blindness, seizures, kidney damage or limb amputation.
7. Should I be vaccinated?
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the American College Health Association (ACHA) recommend vaccination for the following:
- All first-year students  years of age or younger
- Students with medical conditions that compromise immunity (e.g., HIV, absent spleen, antibody deficiency, chemotherapy, immuno-suppressants)
8. How effective is vaccination?
The meningococcal vaccine provides protection against four of the five types of N. meningitidis bacteria that cause meningococcal disease in the United States, types A, C, Y and W-135. In persons 15 to 24 years of age, 70 to 80 percent of cases are caused by potentially vaccine-preventable strains. The vaccine is safe and effective, and adverse reactions are mild and infrequent.
9. Where can Sul Ross students go to be vaccinated?
Check with your hometown Department of State Health Services (DSHS) or private medical provider. Alpine's region 10 DSHS office is located at 205 North Cockrell Street, near the main campus. For additional information, call (432) 837-3877.
10. What is the cost of the meningococcal vaccine?
The cost depends on where the vaccination is obtained. The Pearce Clinic's fee is driven by vaccine price. This has varied between $100 to $200 per dose for this one time shot. Alpine's region 10 DSHS office offers the vaccination on a sliding fee scale.
11. Whom can students and parents contact for additional information?
This information is provided to new students as required by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and Texas Education Code section 51.9191.