Students required to submit vaccination information

The Cohen Health Center recommends students get meningitis vaccines soon, or sign waivers if they have not yet done so. Pennsylvania law requires college students to submit proof of vaccination or sign a waiver if they wish not to get the vaccine.

These forms should be submitted by this Friday, Dec. 6, at the latest to comply with the state’s requirements. Although only one vaccination is required, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and other organizations have recommended that a booster vaccine be applied after five years of the first one to maintain the vaccine’s maximum strength.

Meningitis is usually difficult to detect, as it shares various symptoms with illnesses as common as a cold or a flu. “It happens most often when there is contact with someone else’s saliva,” said Judy Smith, executive director of wellness.

Symptoms include sudden high fevers, nausea, headaches and vomiting. A symptom that is more frequent in meningitis is a stiff neck. Like other viruses, the earlier meningitis is treated, the better the results.

Two meningitis outbreaks have occurred in the United States this academic year, one at Princeton and one at University of California, Santa Barbara. The latter outbreak was just reported the past week.

The Health Center has worked over recent weeks to contact students who have not submitted proof of vaccinations or their waivers to the office in order to be prepared for the deadline.

If students wish to get the vaccine, the Cohen Health Center can direct them to a doctor that provides the vaccine. “This is the time of year when you worry more about infectious diseases overall,” Judy said. “Students should try to get enough sleep, eat healthy, wash their hands and watch to cough or sneeze into the crook of their elbow to avoid spreading diseases.”

For more questions, contact Judy Smith at