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Article of Interest - Vaccinations

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Bridges4Kids LogoKansas City, Missouri Colleges Call for Vaccinations
Associated Press, August 17, 2004
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Health officials are hoping college students will add one more thing to their back-to-school list: a meningitis vaccination.

The University of Kansas is, for the first time, encouraging students living in campus housing to protect themselves from the severe bacterial infection. And a new Missouri law has the University of Missouri doing the same, with all students living in campus housing required to get the shot or sign a statement saying they don't want it.

"Nationally, you are seeing more and more states and schools who want to encourage it," said Myra Strother, chief of staff at the University of Kansas' Watkins Memorial Health Center. "We're kind of going above and beyond the guidelines we've been given by the immunization groups because we want our kids to be as safe as they can be."

The University of Kansas spread the word on the vaccine Monday, sending all students an e-mail and distributing thousands of fliers. Vaccinations are available beginning Thursday at the campus health center.

Resident students at the University of Missouri are being told they can't register for classes until they comply with the new state law passed after a Northwest Missouri State University's meningitis death two years ago.

At Kansas State University, health officials say they're following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to inform students about the vaccine.

About 100 to 125 cases of meningitis are reported annually on U.S. college campuses and five to 15 college students die each year from the disease.

Studies show that students living in dormitories and other group housing are six times as likely to contract meningitis as other college students.

One University of Kansas student, Andy Marso, remains hospitalized in fair condition with the illness after being stricken with it in April.

Meningitis is spread by direct contact with someone who carries the bacteria and can be transferred through saliva.

Its symptoms of headache, fever, stiff neck, rash and nausea can mimic the flu, though it is often much more serious. Up to 20 percent of survivors of meningitis suffer disabilities such as amputations, brain damage and hearing loss.


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