Missouri Senate panel reviews mandatory vaccine legislation

Mar 7, 2014

Credit Kristofor Husted / KBIA News

The Missouri Senate panel met Friday and reviewed legislation that would require all of Missouri’s students who live in student housing to be vaccinated for meningitis as of July 2015. The disease is transferred through saliva and is commonly contracted when living in close quarters with others who are infected.

Andrea Waner from Columbia’s Public Health and Human Services says the University of Missouri already has a similar policy in place, and she supports legislation that will enforce the vaccine for all of Missouri.

“We think it’s incredibly important that people are protected and are aware of what they can do to protect themselves when they’re living in these university owned housing, these college settings or these military settings,” she says.

Dr. Susan Even is the executive director of the Student Health Center at the University of Missouri. She says meningitis should be taken seriously and can be life threatening.

“Because the infection gets in the spinal fluid, in the bloodstream and around the brain, it can happen and spread very fast in the individual,” she says. 

Meningitis symptoms such as nausea or a headache may seem like the flu. The disease is advanced if a person is experiencing a rash, but the vaccine will protect students from the four main strands. The Senate Health Committee heard from a former student who is permanently disabled because of the disease and endorsed the legislation Thursday.