Waco Health Dept. blows away BU’s vaccine price

Quick shots: meningitis

•There are around 1,000 cases of bacterial meningitis in the U.S. annually.
•Bacterial meningitis has a 10-14 percent mortality rate.
•Meningitis is not common and cannot be transmitted by casual contact.
•Meningitis transmission can occur by drinking after, eating after or kissing an infected person.
•The most common cases occur in people under 21 who are living in close quarters, like college dormitories.
•Most meningitis outbreaks are isolated cases.
•Symptoms include: a sudden fever, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, headache and sensitivity to light.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

By Rob Bradfield
Staff Writer

Area college students now have a less expensive way to help prevent a deadly disease.

The Waco-McLennan County Public Health District is offering meningitis boosters to college students under 30 for a reduced price. The vaccines, which the Baylor Health Center offers for $122, are being sold for $14.85 each, but supplies are limited.

“We take check, cash or credit card, and we don’t bill insurance so people who come need to be prepared to pay,” Kelly Craine, health district public information officer, said.

The university caused a stir on graduation day when Baylor ITS accidentally sent out a mass e-mail informing students, some graduating later that day, that a hold was placed on their account until they received a vaccination.

Several hours later Baylor ITS sent an email correction, but that didn’t prevent the flood of phone calls to the Baylor Health Center by concerned students.

“It was just an e-mail; these people did not actually have holds on their accounts,” Dr. Sharon Stern, Baylor Health Center medical director, said.

The e-mail was related to Baylor’s compliance with Texas Senate Bill 1107, also known as the Jamie Schanbaum and Nicolis Williams Act, passed earlier this year. The bill requires all students entering any university in Texas to have a bacterial meningitis vaccination within five years of the first day of class. The new law only applies to college freshmen and students re-entering school after a one year absence.

The bill was passed in response to several outbreaks of meningitis at Texas universities, which resulted in one death last February at Texas A&M University. While there have been no reported cases at Baylor this year, meningitis is still a concern to the Health Center.

“Meningitis is a dreadful, dreadful disease,” Stern said. “You don’t ever want to see it in your life and it’s often fatal.”

While it is dangerous, bacterial meningitis has become increasingly rare with only 1,000 cases reported in the U.S. annually. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a vaccination every five years for young adults, and at least one vaccination before entering college.

Students that need the vaccine can go to the Public Health district at 225 W. Waco Drive between 8:30 and 11:30 a.m., and 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 8:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. on Friday. Walk-ins are welcome, but the district is expecting to run out of vaccines quickly. Updates on the number of available vaccines are available on their twitter feed: @wacohealthdept.

On Friday the Public Health district’s twitter feed said the district has “plenty of meningitis vaccine.” On Thursday the district received a new shipment of 935 meningitis vaccines.