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As the Health Service Director at Dowling College, I am writing to inform you about meningococcal disease, a potentially fatal bacterial infection commonly referred to as meningitis, and a new law in New York State. On July 22, 2003, Governor Pataki signed New York State Public Health Law (NYS PHL) 2167 requiring institutions, including colleges and universities, to distribute information about meningococcal disease and vaccination to all students meeting the enrollment criteria, whether they live on or off campus. This law becomes effective on August 15, 2003 (prior to the Fall 2003 semester).
Dowling College is required to maintain a record of the following for each student:
Meningitis is rare. However, when it strikes, its flu-like symptoms make diagnosis difficult. If not treated early, meningitis can lead to swelling of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal column as well as severe and permanent disabilities, such as hearing loss, brain damage, seizures, limb amputation and even death. Cases of meningitis among teens and young adults 15 to 24 years of age (the age of most college students) have more than doubled since 1991. The disease strikes about 3,000 Americans each year and claims about 900 lives. Between 100 and 125 meningitis cases occur on college campuses and as many as 15 students will die from the disease.
- A response to receipt of meningococcal disease and vaccine information signed by the student or students parent or guardian.
- A record of meningococcal meningitis immunization within the past 10 years; OR
- An acknowledgement of meningococcal disease risks and refusal of meningococcal meningitis immunization signed by the student or students parent or guardian.
A vaccine is available that protects against four types of the bacteria that cause meningitis in the United Statestypes A, C, Y and W-135. These types account for nearly two thirds of meningitis cases among college students.
You should notify your physician well in advance of your wish to obtain the meningitis vaccine so it will be available at the time of your appointment. Cost of the vaccine varies between $60 to $90 per dose.
Students not having furnished proof of vaccination against meningitis or turned in a signed refusal for the vaccine will not be permitted to attend classes or to live in the dormitory building.
Please complete the Meningococcal Meningitis Response Form and return no later than September 30, 2003 to Dowling College 150 Idle Hour Blvd., Oakdale, NY 11769-1999. Att: Health Services OR Brookhaven Center 1300 William Floyd Parkway, Shirley, NY 11967. Att: Health Services.
To learn more about meningitis and the vaccine, please feel free to contact our health service and/or consult your child's physician. You can also find information about the disease at www.health.state.ny.us or www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo or American College Health Associations website: www.acha.org.
Director of Health Services