Bacterial Meningitis

Requirement for Bacterial Meningitis Vaccinations

Bacterial Meningitis is a serious, potentially deadly disease that can progress extremely quickly. 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 370 Americans each year which is a decrease in the number of people infected due to people getting vaccinated. In 2016, there were 72 confirmed cases for youth between the ages of 16 and 23 years of age; 32 of these students attended college. Treatment for the disease is available, but severe health problems or disabilities are still possible.

Effective 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 a Texas higher education institution.

Under justifiable circumstances an institution my grant extensions to individual students to extend the compliance date to no more than 10 days after the first day of the semester or other term in which the student initially enrolls.

An entering student includes a first-time student of a Texas public institution of higher education or private or independent institution 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.

Exemptions to the 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:

For Students attending a four-year university or college interested in requesting a conscientious objection exemption form from DSHS click here: https://corequest.dshs.texas.gov/. The DSHS exemption form may be ordered electronically; but it will be mailed to the address provided by the student. Please allow up to two weeks to receive the form. The form must be completed, notarized, and submitted to the designated school official at the institution the student will be attending no later than ten (10) days prior to the first day of the first semester in which the student enrolls at an institution. The institution will retain the original affidavit. 

For Public Junior College Students only: To access the DSHS secure on-line exemption form click here: https://corequestjc.dshs.texas.gov According to DSHS rules, a copy of the form must be submitted to the designated school official at the institution the student will be attending. 

Exemption Form Q&A

DSHS has certain requirements about the handling of the exemption form as described below.

1. How long is  the notarized DSHS affidavit exemption form valid?

This document is valid for two (2) years after the signature date of the notary. For the initial filing, the form must be turned into the school within 90 days of being notarized or it is no longer valid, but no later than ten (10) days prior to the first day of the first semester in which the student enrolls in an institution.  A new form is not necessary if the student is continuously enrolled at the same institution.

2. Can the DSHS affidavit exemption forms be transferred from one university to another (as part of a student’s record)?

For students transferring between four year institutions it is possible to transfer the affidavit exemption form if it is still valid. However, due to the two-year validation period it is not always possible to re-use an immunization exemption form at a second institution once it has been used at the first school.

The Texas Health & Safety Code does not address the confidentiality of exemption forms/affidavits after they leave the DSHS office. Institutions of higher education will need to speak to their own legal counsels about any concerns about legal requirements specifically related to the transfer of student records between institutions.

3. Can the DSHS public junior college exemption form be transferred to another institution?

The public junior college form is  not transferrable as it is  specific to the public junior college attended. Students will need to get a new exemption form in this instance.

4. Can the DSHS exemption forms be photocopied?

  The DSHS affidavit is invalid if it is reproduced, but the public junior college form can be copied.

Meningococcal Serogroup B (MenB)

The meningitis college entry requirement of the Texas Administrative Code states that students must receive a "bacterial meningitis vaccination." At the time that the rule and statute took effect, only two types of bacterial meningitis vaccines were available to students: meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY) and meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (MPSV4). According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) MenACWY is the vaccine recommended for this age group, however both vaccines, MenACWY and MPSV4, protect against the same four strains of bacterial meningitis (A, C, W and Y).

Recently two additional vaccines became available that offer protection from strains of meningococcal serogroup B, commonly known as MenB. The Centers for Disease Control Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends MenB vaccinations for certain at risk populations.

Students should consult a physician or medical practitioner to determine the optimum vaccination protocol for their individual needs. It is important to note that vaccinations for Men ACWY and MenB are not interchangeable. MenB vaccines do not provide protection for MenACWY strains and MenACWY vaccines do not provide protection for MenB strains.

Please consult the Centers for Disease Control Website for the latest information on recommended vaccines. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/mening/

Institutional Responsibilities

All public and private higher education institutions in Texas are required to notify new entering students about bacterial meningitis and document students’ receipt of that information. See the document below for additional guidance.

Multiple methods are suggested as the best means to ensure student information provision and confirmation of information receipt (e.g., online, postcards,electronicandpaperapplicationforms,studentorientation,advisorforms,posters,etc.).

 Statutory and Regulatory Authority

 

Inquiries regarding THECB guidance on Bacterial Meningitis vaccinations should be directed to  Sheri.Ranis@thecb.state.tx.us.