A proposed state House bill to require students to be vaccinated for meningitis is an important safety measure and it should be passed.
State Rep. Lauren Hager, R-Port Huron, has joined forces with music education sophomore Adam Busuttil to propose a bill that would require all new college students living in residence halls to get vaccinated against meningitis.
Busuttil was stricken with the disease in 1999. MSU provided free vaccinations to about 16,000 students after Busuttils condition was announced.
The proposed bill would require students to pay $75 for the shot. However, those who do not wish to be vaccinated could sign a waiver.
MSU sent letters last fall encouraging new students to get vaccinated against meningitis and other diseases. The university considered requiring the vaccine, but the idea was not approved.
The vaccine protects against four of the five strains of bacterial meningitis.
This bills requirements are important measures to help protect college students. A few minutes taken to get vaccinated can protect a person from a potentially fatal disease. This law may encourage people who would not have ordinarily gotten vaccinated to make the effort.
This not only protects individuals from the disease, but protects all who come in contact with them. One person can come in contact with thousands of people a day, and can spread a disease to many of them. Getting vaccinated helps the individual and the masses.
While this bill addresses personal choice issues, the safety issues it aims to combat are more important. The short duration of discomfort endured from getting vaccinated is worth protecting oneself and many others. Those who are strongly opposed to the idea still have the option to waive vaccination.
Those who have not been vaccinated and are not new or on-campus students should also get vaccinated. The living conditions of college students, whether in dorms or elsewhere, are not the most ideal for healthy living. Taking the precaution to get vaccinated could help save a life.
Meningitis is not unknown to MSU. Before Busuttils infection in 1999, there were three cases in the 1996-97 academic year, resulting in one death. It has happened before; it can certainly happen again.
Busuttil and Hager should be commended for their efforts to get this bill passed. Their work could prevent the infection of another student and subsequent scramble to get vaccinated, which occurred after Busuttil came down with the ailment.
This bill could help to keep the students of MSU and other colleges in the state healthy. It is a good way to prevent the disease from beginning and spreading on campus. With or without a bill requiring it, students should make the effort to get vaccinated for their own sake if not for the entire MSU population.
The health of the student body is worth the minor inconvenience of a poke in the arm.