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Bacterial Meningitis Vaccination and Information

Published or Revised July 27, 2015

Beginning on January 1, 2012, all entering students are required to show evidence of an initial bacterial meningitis vaccine or a booster dose during the five-year period preceding and at least 10 days prior to the first day of the first semester in which the student initially enrolls at an institution. An entering student includes a first-time student of an institution of higher education or private or independent institution of higher education and includes a transfer student, or a student who previously attended an institution of higher education before January 1, 2012, and who is enrolling in the same or another institution of higher education following a break in enrollment of at least one fall or spring semester.

Bacterial Meningitis is a serious, potentially deadly disease that can progress extremely fast - so take utmost caution. It is an inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. The bacteria that causes meningitis can also infect the blood. This disease strikes about 3,000 Americans each year, including 100-125 on college campuses, leading to 5-15 deaths among college students every year. There is a treatment, but those who survive may develop severe health problems or disabilities.

Exceptions to Bacterial Meningitis Vaccination Requirement

Acceptable evidence of vaccination or receiving a booster dose includes:

A student is not required to submit evidence of receiving the vaccination against bacterial meningitis if the student submits to the institution:

Click here for information about requesting a conscientious objection exemption form from DSHS. The DSHS exemption form may be ordered electronically; however it will be mailed to the address provided by the student. Please allow up to two weeks to receive the form. The form must be completed, notarized, and submitted to the designated school official at the institution the student will be attending.

For Public Junior College Students only, click here to access the DSHS secure on-line exemption form. A copy of the form must be submitted to the designated school official at the institution the student will be attending.

DSHS has certain requirements about the expiration of the conscientious objection form, and photocopying the form, as designated in the question and answers below:

1. How long are the DSHS affidavit exemption forms valid?

These documents are valid for 2 years after the signature date of the notary. For the initial filing, the form must be turned into the school within 90 days of being notarized or it is no longer valid.

2. Can the DSHS affidavit exemption forms be transferred from one university to another (as part of their student record)?

For students transferring colleges/universities, it is possible to transfer the affidavit exemption form as long as it is still valid.

The Texas Health & Safety Code does not address the confidentiality of exemption forms/affidavits after they leave the DSHS office.  Institutions of higher education will need to speak to their own legal counsels about any concerns they have about legal requirements specifically related to the transfer of student records between institutions.

It should be noted that it is not always possible to re-use an immunization exemption form at a second institution once it has been used at the first school.

3. Can the new DSHS public junior college exemption forms be transferred?

The new public junior college forms are not transferrable as they are specific to the public junior college.  Students will need to get new exemption forms in this instance.

4. Can the DSHS exemption forms be photocopied?

No forms can be reproduced whatsoever, it’s a violation of law.

About Bacterial Meningitis

This information is being provided to all new college students in the State of Texas. Bacterial Meningitis is a serious, potentially deadly disease that can progress extremely fast — so take utmost caution. It is an inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. The bacteria that causes meningitis can also infect the blood. This disease strikes about 3,000 Americans every year, including 100-125 on college campuses, leading to 5-15 deaths among college students every year. There is a treatment, but those who survive may develop severe health problems or disabilities.

What are the Symptoms?

There may be a rash of tiny, red-purple spots caused by bleeding under the skin. These can occur anywhere on the body.

The more symptoms, the higher the risk, so when these symptoms appear seek immediate medical attention.

How is Bacterial Meningitis Diagnosed?

How is the Disease Transmitted?

How do you increase your risk?

What are the possible consequences of the disease?

Can the disease be treated?

How can I find out more?

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