By Obed Manuel
I have no qualms about providing proof of being vaccinated against certain illnesses. I, and surely most who are reading this, was asked to do so throughout my elementary, middle and high school years.
According to the Dallas County Community College District’s website, effective Jan. 1, new students, transfer students new to a campus and students who have experienced a break in enrollment of at least one term must present proof of having been vaccinated for meningitis in the five years before registering for class.
The mandate for receiving the vaccination is a result of the Texas legislature’s passage of the Jamie Schaunbaum and Nicolis Williams Act in May, The Dallas Morning News reported in June. The act was named in honor of two students affected by bacterial meningitis.
There is nothing wrong with being asked to provide proof of vaccination. Meningitis can be deadly — Williams died of the disease earlier this year.
A gripe I believe many students will have is that they will not discover this new requirement until they begin registering for classes. And this does not even factor in the fact that, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services, the vaccine can cost up to $170.
However, even the cost for a potentially life-saving vaccination is not what should concern students.
According to a Cable News Network article about Governor Rick Perry’s campaign contributors, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, maker of the meningitis vaccine, has contributed $700,000 since 2006 to the Republican Governors Association, a group chaired by Perry. The RGA has been one of Perry’s strongest supporters, according to the article.
This wouldn’t be the first time the governor has signed off on something that benefits a pharmaceutical company. In 2007, Perry signed an executive order, which was revoked by the Texas legislature, mandating that preteen girls receive a vaccination against the human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease known to cause cervical cancer, The Dallas Morning News reported. The maker of the HPV vaccine is Merck, and the company has been one of Perry and the RGA’s biggest contributors since 2006.
Students of any age group in Texas have been at risk of exploitation by these pharmaceutical companies for years now because of political and business interests, and it is not fair.
I understand money is a huge part of the political process, but students cannot be used as pawns for the benefit of one or two companies and one governor.
Yes, the vaccines are helpful and may save lives, but why can’t moves of this nature ever be focused solely on the well-being of students?
My suggestion is simple: ask questions and demand answers.