Recently-passed Senate Bill 1107 will now require all incoming students to any institution of higher education to receive the vaccination against bacterial Meningitis.
The bill was originally approved earlier this year to only require students living in on-campus housing to receive the vaccination. However, this amendment – effective January 1 – will now include all incoming freshman and transfer students to any two- or four-year college regardless of their living arrangements.
A break in enrollment for at least one semester would require the student to be re-vaccinated although students who are currently enrolled in a school that they do not plan to transfer out of or break enrollment would not be required to receive the immunization under this bill.
Meningitis, according to WebMD, is a potentially life-threatening infection of the layer of tissue that surrounds the brain and the spinal cord. If not treated, Meningitis can lead to brain swelling and cause further disability, including coma and even death.
It also is most common is the teenaged and young adult population. It is highly contagious and is fatal about 20 percent of the time. WebMD reports that approximately 5,000 to 7,000 people a year.
To receive the mandatory vaccination, some private physicians in the area offer the shot for around $130. However, the Corpus Christi-Nueces County Health Department offers the vaccination for only $10 for those that are uninsured or underinsured.
Adelaida Yerger, immunization program manager at the Health Department, encourages students to take advantage of this opportunity.
“The remainder of the cost is covered by the Adult Safety Net Program,” Yerger said. “This program was established three years ago to help funding.”
Students don’t need to bring any verification that they are uninsured or underinsured to receive the discounted shot.
“Each person must sign a statement saying that they are uninsured or underinsured,” Yerger said. “But that gives everyone the opportunity to get the vaccination because so few doctors in town offer it.”
Walk-ins are accepted Mondays from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, appointments are accepted between 8 and 11:30 a.m. or 1 and 4:30 p.m. Thursdays appointments are available between 8 and 11:30 a.m. Fridays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Health Department will provide a record of the vaccination to be given to the college as required by this bill. Yerger encourages students to not wait until the last minute to receive the shot.
“It wouldn’t be wise to wait because the funding through the Adult Safety Net Program is limited,” Yerger said. “It would be hard to determine how long the funding will last for this $10 price.”