By Ohio State Senator Cliff Hite
Mid-August marks the time when many of our high school graduates pack up and head off to college for the first time. This time of year is always accompanied by packing lists and to-do lists. One item our students should be sure not to forget: their meningitis vaccination.
People of any age can get meningitis, but those most at risk include very young children, adolescents and, especially, those living in close quarters like college dormitories. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the meningococcal vaccine for everyone aged 11 to 18 years old. Those who are headed off to college should have a booster shot if their original dose was given at least five years earlier.
Current state law requires students in on-campus housing at public universities to tell administrators whether they have been vaccinated for meningitis. There is currently no legal mandate in Ohio that college students be vaccinated, though some other states have taken that step. In recent years, there have been several cases of meningitis at Ohio colleges, some fatal. Nationally, about 100 cases of meningitis occur on campuses each year. To protect students, some colleges require proof of vaccination as a condition of enrollment.