Bacterial Meningitis and Vaccination Requirements

​​​​​​Bacterial Meningitis is a serious and potentially deadly disease that can progress extremely fast –that can progress extremely fast and requires the utmost caution.

It is an inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. The bacteria that cause 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.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms include high fever, severe headache, vomiting, sensitivity to light, stiff neck, confusion, sleepiness, nausea, lethargy and seizures. 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?

Diagnosis is made by a medical provider and is usually based on a combination of clinical symptoms and laboratory results from spinal fluid and blood tests. Early diagnosis and treatment can greatly improve the likelihood of recovery.

How is the disease transmitted?

The disease is transmitted when people exchange saliva (such as kissing or sharing food, drinks, utensils, cigarettes or toothbrushes) or come in contact with bacteria-infected respiratory or throat secretions.

Who is at increased risk of getting bacterial meningitis?

In addition to those exposed to saliva, anyone living in close conditions, (such as sharing a room, dorm, home) is at increased risk of contracting the disease.

What are the possible consequences of the disease?

  • Death
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Kidney failure
  • Learning disability
  • Hearing loss, blindness
  • Limb damage (fingers, toes, arms, legs) that requires amputation
  • Gangrene
  • Coma Convulsions

Can the disease be treated?

Antibiotic treatment, if received early, can save lives and chances of recovery are increased. However, permanent disability or death can still occur.

Source: Texas Department of State Health Services

Attention Students: Proof of Meningitis Vaccination Required

What: State of Texas meningitis vaccination requirement (Texas Education Code, Section 51.9192)

When: Effective Spring 2014 semester and all semesters thereafter

Who: Unless exempt, students (under 22 years of age) who will take face-to-face or hybrid classes that require on-campus attendance must provide the college with proof of meningitis vaccination (or booster dose) if the student is:

  • Enrolling for the first time as a credit student;
  • Returning after a semester break in enrollment;
  • Transferring to Dallas College from another college or university;
  • A new or returning continuing education student enrolled in programs with 360 contact hours or more;
  • A distance education student who lives or resides in Texas (residency is based on your actual mailing address – post office boxes cannot be used as proof of residency);
  • A Dual Credit, Early College or Charter High School student attending classes at Dallas College; or
  • A continuing education student who is enrolled in concurrent credit courses

Vaccination or booster dose must have been administered during the five years prior to enrollment and at least ten days before the start of classes.

Deadline: You must submit proof of vaccination (or booster dose) to the Admissions Office for your campus before registering for class. Dallas College requires compliance with the meningitis vaccination requirement before you will be allowed to register.

Exceptions to the vaccination requirement

A student does not need to provide proof of meningitis vaccination if the student meets any of the following criteria:

  • The student is 22 years of age or older (by the first day of the semester in which the student is enrolled).
  • The student is only enrolled in distance education courses and lives outside of the State of Texas or outside of the United States.
  • The student is enrolled in a continuing education course or program that is less than 360 contact hours or in continuing education corporate training.
  • The student is enrolled in one or more dual credited courses taught at a public or private K-12 facility which is not located on a Dallas College campus.
  • The student is receiving education from Dallas College but is incarcerated in a Texas prison.

A student is not required to submit evidence of the bacterial meningitis vaccination if the student, parent or guardian submits to Dallas College:

  • An affidavit or certificate signed by a physician ,who is duly registered and licensed to practice medicine in the United States, in which it is stated, in the doctor’s opinion, that the vaccination would injure the health and well-being of the student; or
  • An affidavit signed by the student stating that the student declines to take the vaccination for bacterial meningitis for reasons of conscience, including religious belief. In lieu of the affidavit the student may apply for an exemption from the vaccination requirement for reasons of conscience by completing the online form located at the following website.

See also “Forms and Publications - School Immunizations” (Texas Health and Human Services).

Students may obtain bacterial meningitis vaccinations from their own physicians, local health departments, clinics, area pharmacies and similar facilities.