Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed into law Thursday a bill requiring public college students in the state to be vaccinated against meningitis.
The law, which takes effect on July 1 next year, applies to all students attending a public institution of higher education who live in on-campus housing. The law has provisions for medical and religious exemptions.
Bacterial meningitis, which affects the lining of the brain and spinal cord, can damage the nervous system, causing hearing loss, epilepsy or cognitive impairment. It also can lead to the loss of limbs. About 1,000 to 2,600 people contract the disease each year in the U.S., and about one in 10 dies.
The disease is most common among infants and young adults, ages 16 to 21. College students living in communal situations, such as dormitories, are at particular risk. There were outbreaks of bacterial meningitis last year at Princeton University and the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a combined total of more than a dozen confirmed cases at the two campuses.
Alan Bavley, firstname.lastname@example.org