Award-winning student news since 1978

The Brookhaven Courier

Award-winning student news since 1978

The Brookhaven Courier

Award-winning student news since 1978

The Brookhaven Courier

Waiver created for meningitis vaccine

By Stephanie Ball

New students at Brookhaven College had one more form to submit as they registered for the Spring 2012 semester: proof of vaccination against bacterial meningitis. As of Jan. 1, Texas requires all first-time, transfer and returning students under the age of 30 to provide proof of the vaccine.

The Dallas County Department of Health and Human Services ran out of $10 vaccines during the first week of January, causing many students to look elsewhere and pay up to $150 for their dose.

Students who were not able to receive the vaccine due to cost or shortage have been granted an extension through April 18.
Oscar Lopez, vice president of enrollment and student success, said a temporary waiver is available for students who have not been vaccinated due to the shortage statewide.

According to Lopez, a consensus was reached because most physicians did not carry the vaccine.

“It was obvious from the beginning there was a big lack of coordination from the start to the end,” Lopez said.

Mildred Kelley, Brookhaven College nurse, said the new requirement was confusing for students and inconvenient.

“Cost was the factor as well as understanding the meaning of the rule,” Kelley said. “Paying for the costs of classes and registration and then an additional $150 for the vaccine seems astronomical for anybody.”

The average in-districtprice for three credit hours at Brookhaven is $135. Some students could not afford the vaccine, contributing to a late registration.

Student Adofo Estrada said he called Brookhaven to find out where to get the vaccine and discovered there were no doses available in the area.

“The school said they ran out and that I just had to get it before April,” Estrada said.

Lopez said there have not been too many complaints from students, except when the law was initially enacted. Students who did not want to wait in the long Health Department lines caused frequent complaints to administrators.

“We don’t know how many students have not come to school, but we suspect this may have impacted enrollment,” Lopez said. “There are multiple causes that could affect enrollment this spring.”

The vaccine was offered on campus for two days during January, primarily for international students. Dr. Thom Chesney, Brookhaven president, said he will look into putting the vaccine into financial aid if the prices stay high.

“We need to stay on top and find the best practices and processes as a state,” Chesney said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meningitis is contagious, but avoidable if students get plenty of rest and do not come into close contact with people who are sick.

The CDC also recommended students wash their hands frequently and avoid sharing lip balm or drinking cups.

Students who have not been vaccinated are in no immediate danger, Kelley said. “I think this requirement will get better as time goes on,” Kelley said. “The first time something is new it is always rough.”

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