Students heading to college dormitories this fall don't have to receive a meningitis vaccine, but Georgia legislators want them to know it's a good idea.
According to the Georgia Board of Regents, any student attending a public college or university must either sign a waiver after reading meningitis literature or provide proof of immunization before living in the dorms.
Meningitis, a bacterial or viral infection that causes inflammation of the brain lining, is a serious and potentially fatal communicable disease.
"It's particularly important for college students who are staying in dormitories or military troops staying in barracks to have," said Terrence Cook, an Augusta allergist who also does immunizations.
Dr. Cook said that a new meningitis vaccine has just become available to the public, which is more effective and longer-lasting than previous vaccines.
It also is recommended for early teenagers, part of the "peak age" for contracting the infection.
Some insurance plans cover meningitis vaccines. According to Dr. Cook, the immunization costs $150. It also is available at county health departments.
"The important thing is that meningococcal infection is potentially around all the time. If you do acquire it, the results could be disastrous," Dr. Cook said.
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