DENISON, TX-Dozens of students lined up at Grayson College Friday, not just to sign up for classes, but also to protect themselves from a potentially fatal disease; a measure that's now required by Texas law.
In the past, only first-time college students, those who live on-campus and those majoring in health sciences were required to get the meningitis shot. But as of January, Texas lawmakers now require all college students to get meningitis shots when they enroll for classes.
Grayson County Health Department's Nancy Grella prepped a series of meningitis vaccines as Grayson College students line up to get their shots. She brought in enough vaccines for 100 people.
"Meningitis is such a horrible disease. You're fine one minute and, in 6 hours, you can be in a coma. It's general malaise, it's a headache, it's a stiff neck and it progresses," she said.
Grella said Texas lawmakers decided to expand the meningitis vaccine requirements to all college students, not just those who live on-campus because of a fatal incident involving a Texas A&M student last year.
"A&M unfortunately had two students come down with meningitis and one died. Well the one that died lived off-campus didn't need the meningitis shot. So the families of those two students got together and went to the legislature," she said.
Grella added college students are at high risk of getting bacterial meningitis, like infants and teenagers.
"Now we got all these people living in dorms, close contact, exploring relationships, close contact and universities have students coming in from all over so you just don't know," she said.
"No, we haven't had any incidents on campus to date. We don't expect there to be any situation, but obviously we can't predict the future."
Grayson College Admissions Director Gary Hensler said the college took extra steps to make sure all of their students get vaccinated. They're all required to present proof that they've had the shot upon enrollment.
"We've actually notified those students who are missing their meningitis vaccinations, so we've given them a couple of opportunities to come in. We also have another clinic on September 7th so there's a second opportunity, but at that point then they cannot continue in class," he said.
If you missed Friday's immunization clinic, you can stop by the Grayson County Health Department in Denison or Sherman Monday through Friday. The shots cost $90. If a student can't afford the shot, there's currently no financial help available, but GC is working for a way to let students pay for it through their financial aid sometime in the future.
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