A law the Indiana General Assembly passed last year requires incoming students at all Indiana University and Purdue University campuses to receive the meningitis B vaccination. And Ball State University has announced it will follow suit.
The new meningitis compliance policy will go into effect during the upcoming school year. It will add the meningitis B vaccine to a list of required vaccines for students, including Tuberculosis, Chickenpox and MMR vaccinations.
Diana Ebling is the medical director at the Indiana University Health Center. She says although these infections are uncommon, students should still take necessary precautions.
“They are very rare, but because they’re so serious is why it’s important to be vaccinated against them, and young college students living in dorms, or living close together in apartments are greatest at risk of getting these infections,” Ebling says.
Dr. Sarah Sayger is the medical director at Purdue University. She says many international students on campus may not have access to the vaccine, but the university plans to make accommodations for any student who needs immunization.
“We are prepared, just like all the other immunization that are required, we are prepared to have those available to them when they arrive on campus,” Dr. Sayger says.
Lisa Robertson is the Executive Director of the Indiana Immunization Coalition. She says 71 percent of meningitis cases in Indiana last year were meningitis B, and each of the outbreaks over the past five years happened on college campuses.
The state requires that students receive the Mcv4 meningitis vaccine while in high school, which only covers, meningitis strains A, C, W, and Y. Robertson says by requiring the MenB vaccine, colleges will now add additional protection against another strain of meningitis.
Two doses of meningitis B vaccines will be required for students 23 or younger beginning in the fall.
This post has been updated.