To prevent outbreaks, colleges may soon require meningitis vaccines for students living on campus under a bill advanced by the Assembly on Thursday.
Sponsored by Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, R-21st District, Assembly Bill 1991 mandates inoculations for meningitis B recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Munoz’s bill mandates the recommendations of a CDC advisory committee that both vaccines be administered before a student starts college. A1991 was passed out of committee in December.
New Jersey is one of 38 states requiring college students be inoculated with the meningococcal conjugate vaccine.
Health experts assert that with hundreds of students living in close quarters, college residence halls are ripe for the spread of infectious illnesses like meningitis B.
“The CDC is the lead agency for tracking communicable diseases and issuing recommendations. It makes sense to follow its guidelines to better protect students and others,” said Munoz. “Students living on campus are especially vulnerable to meningitis, which can be spread by kissing, sharing eating utensils or water bottles, or coughing or sneezing in close proximity to others.”
Cases of bacterial meningitis have been reported at Princeton in 2013 and 2014 and Rutgers in 2016. Ten students were affected by the outbreaks leading to the death of a Drexel University student who was visiting Princeton in 2014.