Students entering college require up-to-date vaccinations

Gabriella Canales By Gabriella Canales

Aug. 10, 2017 at 9:03 p.m.
Updated Aug. 11, 2017 at 6 a.m.

   mct photo for The Victoria Advocate

Texas law requires almost all new and transfer college students under 22 to be vaccinated against meningococcal disease caused by the most common types of bacteria.

University of Houston-Victoria and Victoria College students will need up-to-date vaccines to be fully enrolled 10 days before the semester begins.

Victoria College students will not be able to register until proof of vaccination is on file in the Office of Admissions and Records, said Edrel Stoneham, director of enrollment services.

A hold will be placed on a student's account if they do not have up-to-date meningitis vaccine information.

Proof includes the signature or stamp of a physician, designee or public health personnel on a form that shows the month, day and year of administration; an official immunization record; or an official record received from school officials, including a record from another state.

Students can receive the vaccine from their care provider or from a local clinic, he said.

The college partnered with Walgreens this year to provide the vaccine for free to about 50 students who were identified as missing the shot, Stoneham said.

The renewed effort by officials aids students who have financial challenges, he said. It also allows the students to meet with advisers on the same day to begin registering for classes.

University of Houston-Victoria students who live on the campus or within 50 miles of the campus are eligible to use the Community Health Centers of South Central Texas as their primary care provider without any other form of insurance.

"College students are at increased risk of meningococcal infection that can result in very serious disease, including meningitis, and that can spread among people who live in close quarters," said Dr. Jane Siegel, a Corpus Christi a pediatric infectious disease specialist and chair of the Texas Medical Association's Committee on Infectious Diseases.

"This germ is spread through respiratory tract secretions, so living in close quarters like a dormitory increases the likelihood of spread of this organism."

Types of meningococcal disease include infections of the brain's lining, the spinal cord and/or the bloodstream, said Siegel, who is a member of TMA's Be Wise - Immunize Physician Advisory Panel.

Emergency medical care is important because this illness can become deadly within hours.

Students who are 18 or older should sign the consent forms to keep their vaccination records in the Texas state registry.

"Having the data available in the state registry is convenient and will allow you to get vaccine reports when you need them," said Siegel.

The bottom line, she said, is that vaccines saves lives.

"Immunizations are one of the 10 most important public health advancements of the 20th century," she said. "So, it is best to prevent what we can when safe and effective vaccines are available."



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