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by: Rep.

As the winter break winds down and college students begin to prepare for another semester away from home, there may be one more back-to-school item for some students to cross off the to-do list: obtain a vaccination against bacterial meningitis.

This past session the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 1107, known as the "Jamie Schanbaum and Nicolis Williams Act," in order to protect against the preventable and often fatal disease known as bacterial meningitis.

Students between the ages of 18-29 who did not attend college in the previous semester are required to either obtain the vaccine or provide proof of vaccination against bacterial meningitis within the past five years in order to complete the enrollment process.

Institutions of higher education have been instructed to provide a written notice of the right of the student or of a parent or guardian of the student to claim an exemption from the vaccination requirement. This notice will be included with the registration materials provided to the student before their initial enrollment at the institution of higher education. In addition, parents of students are encouraged to discuss the need for immunization to prevent the disease with their physician.

If paying for the vaccine is a concern, contact the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). DSHS has made arrangements to provide a limited amount of the vaccine at low cost to uninsured or underinsured students. Clinics can be located by calling 2-1-1.

I hope that all students who are returning to school will have a safe and healthy spring semester.

Representative Workman is the current state representative for House District 47.

Austen Bailey

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