If you thought the days of vaccinations were over once you send your child off to college, you thought wrong.
Physicians groups in Georgia hand-delivered a letter to the University System of Georgia last week urging colleges and universities to advocate a new meningitis vaccine.
The Georgia State Medical Association, Medical Association of Georgia, Georgia Academy of Family Physicians and Georgia Chapter of the American College of Physicians all signed the letter noting that teenagers and young adults are not protected against meningitis B.
Under current Georgia law, students who live on-campus, at both private and public institutions, must be vaccinated against meningococcal disease, but doctors groups are now saying that vaccine only protects against four of the five known strains of meningitis. The last strain, Meningitis B, can only be shielded by a newer vaccine.
“Many of our students are likely vulnerable to meningitis B because it requires a separate vaccination in addition to the so-called ‘meningitis conjugate vaccine,’ which protects against the other serogroups – A, C, W, and Y,” the groups wrote in the letter to Chancellor Wrigley. “Because meningitis B vaccinations have only been recently developed, Georgia law does not yet specifically stipulate that students receive a meningitis B vaccine in addition to the conjugate vaccine, nor has the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issued a strong recommendation behind it, which would greatly increase the likelihood that physicians would proactively offer it to college students.”
Bacterial meningitis, the most dangerous form of meningococcal disease, tends to spread in close quarters, making college settings such as classrooms and dormitories a potentially ideal environment for outbreaks.
Meningitis can cause brain damage, hearing loss, learning disabilities and even death. It is most dangerous because it is often believed to be the flu instead of meningitis.