New Requirements and Important Information About Bacterial Meningitis

New Requirement for Bacterial Meningitis Vaccination

Beginning on January 1, 2012, all entering students are required to show evidence of an initial bacterial meningitis vaccine or a booster dose during the five-year period preceding and at least 10 days prior to the first day of the first semester in which the student initially enrolls at an institution. An entering student includes a first-time student of an institution of higher education or private or independent institution of higher education and includes a transfer student, or a student who previously attended an institution of higher education before January 1, 2012, and who is enrolling in the same or another institution of higher education following a break in enrollment of at least one fall or spring semester.

Bacterial Meningitis is a serious, potentially deadly disease that can progress extremely fast – so take utmost caution. It is an inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. The bacteria that causes meningitis can also infect the blood. This disease strikes about 3,000 Americans each year, including 100-125 on college campuses, leading to 5-15 deaths among college students every year. There is a treatment, but those who survive may develop severe health problems or disabilities.

Exemptions to Bacterial Meningitis Vaccination Requirement

A student is not required to submit evidence of receiving the vaccination against bacterial meningitis if the student meets any of the following criteria:


A student is not required to submit evidence of receiving the vaccination against bacterial meningitis if the student submits to the institution:


Information about requesting the affidavit form from DSHS is found at http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/immunize/school/default.shtm#exclusions. The DSHS form may be ordered electronically; however they will be mailed to the address provided by the student. Please allow up to two weeks to receive the form.

what are the symptoms?

There may be a rash of tiny, red-purple spots caused by bleeding under the skin. These can occur anywhere on the body.

The more symptoms, the higher the risk, so when these symptoms appear seek immediate medical attention.

how is bacterial meningitis diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made by a medical provider and is usually based on a combination of clinical symptoms and laboratory results from spinal fluid and blood tests.

Early diagnosis and treatment can greatly improve the likelihood of recovery.

how is the disease transmitted?

The disease is transmitted when people exchange saliva (such as by kissing, or by sharing drinking containers, utensils, cigarettes, toothbrushes, etc.) or come in contact with respiratory or throat secretions.

what increases your risk of contracting bacterial meningitis?

what are the possible consequences of the disease?

can the disease be treated?

Antibiotic treatment, if received early, can save lives and chances of recovery are increased. However, permanent disability or death can still occur.

Vaccinations are effective against 4 of the 5 most common bacterial types that cause 70% of the disease in the U.S. (but does not protect against all types of meningitis).

Vaccinations take 7-10 days to become effective, with protection lasting 3-5 years.

The cost of vaccine varies, so check with your health care provider.

Vaccination is very safe - most common side effects are redness and minor pain at injection site for up to two days.

where can I get more information?

Contact your health care provider, local Texas Department of Health Services or the Student Health Center at the institution in which you enroll (for the availability of the vaccine).