I was reading an editorial article this past weekend written by our State Senator Cliff Hite. In the article titled "Why March 9th Matters To Me", Senator Hite is reminding all of us that today March 9th is our state's first Meningitis Awareness Day. This day is in honor of Senator Hites' niece, Tess, who died at age 5 of meningitis. The reason Senator Hite wanted a day set aside for this is to make all Ohioans aware of this deadly disease and how easily it can be prevented. Senator Hite mentions a few other cases; one student who lost her legs and fingers to Bacterial Meningitis and another 19 year old girl who was buried on her birthday because of meningitis. Roughly 15 percent of meningitis cases are fatal, and 20 percent of survivors have lasting effects, including the loss of limbs.
Working with the Department of Health, medical professionals, local health officials, and vaccination specialist, Senator Hite is proposing a bill that will add bacterial meningitis to the existing list of vaccinations that the Ohio Department of Health regulates for our schools. Currently there is no regulation regarding the meningitis vaccine in Ohio even though there are 25 other states that have meningitis on the list of school vaccinations. As one mother stated in the article, "no parent should have to lose a child to a disease that can potentially be prevented through vaccination.
Regardless of your view on vaccinations, if you are planning to go to college or a major university, you should check into the requirements. I know that according to their website (here), the Ohio Department of Health states that Ohio law does not require vaccination of the student but it does require disclosure of vaccination status. However, in an article from the Columbus Dispatch on March 6th, it states that new Ohio State University students will have to prove they have had their shots. Ohio State is requiring that incoming students have proof of vaccination against the following illnesses: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B and varicella (chickenpox). And students new to the residence halls will have to be vaccinated against meningitis. A copy of the article is here. I hope this information helps make you aware of the threats of meningitis and also informs you about the requirements for college. If you have any questions, please stop by my office.