City, Missouri Colleges Call for Vaccinations
Associated Press, August 17, 2004
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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
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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