POSTED: Thursday, December 29, 2011 - 7:00pm
UPDATED: Friday, December 30, 2011 - 6:43am
EL PASO- A new Texas law starting January 1st requires all college students to have a Meningitis vaccination, whether they live on or off campus.
That means that some students will have to update their records before they return to class. The new law is an effort to prevent a tragedy like the one last February at Texas A&M. Previously, only students living in on-campus dorms were required to have the vaccine.
Meningitis is a rare infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal chord. The illness can be fatal and easily spread person to person. " I really believe that it's important to do preventive measure and something that cost your life if you know whatever the fee, it's probably worth it," said Bianca Lopez, Professor at UTEP.
About a thousand cases of Meningitis are reported a year, but more than ten percent of these cases have been deadly. The new Senate bill was named after two college students at Texas A&M came down with Meningitis last February. One of them died. He was 20 year old Nicolis Williams. He was a junior and had been living off campus. His parents were in shock. "It was very devastating news to hear that he was brain dead and that he wouldn't be coming out of it,” said Greg and Arlene Williams.
His family pushed for this bill to pass and now it's a huge victory in his name. A victory that a student at Texas A&M said she will always remember. "When you see the parents come in and we have a tradition, every month we honor our students who are currently enrolled who have passed away..and you see them come in and you see the hurt they have and you realize that was something that could've totally been prevented...it makes sense," said Italia Garduno. She didn't know the students personally,but she says the university is a tight knit community. She says she is relieved to know that their names on this bill and new law are making a difference on all college campuses in Texas.
The health department says that students who have gotten the Meningitis vaccination within the last five years do not have to re-vaccinate. If you are a first time student, transfer or returning student and haven't had the shot in five years, you need one at least ten days before the semester starts.