Officials enforce immunization

Students living on campus will be required to complete another immunization form by Jan. 1, 2003.

The State Legislature voted in support of the bill outlining the immunization requirements earlier this year.

The current immunizations that were required for incoming freshmen for the 2002-2003 school year did not include hepatitis B, or meningococcal meningitis.

There has not been an outbreak of either disease reported in Florida, but the risk of contracting one is still evident. Despite these risks they did not make either shot mandatory.

As of Jan. 1, 2003 all students are required to have completed the new immunization form before living on campus. However, this does not mean they must receive the suggested immunization shots.

Students must fill out the form either agreeing to get the shots or sign a waiver stating they understand the risks, but will not be receiving shots, according to Shankar Shetty, director of Student Health Services.

Shetty said if students fail to complete the form by Jan. 1, Jerry Moore, the director of housing, is permitted to remove the students from their residence. Shetty also said he was not sure if the policy would be permanent, that would have to be worked out with Moore.

Some students said they don’t mind the new requirements.

“I think that everyone should be required to get the shots if they are living in on-campus housing,” said Alicia Corpening, 19, a freshman business student from Seattle.

“I think it is good to make the students aware of the risks,” said Vincent Flourney, 18, a freshman broadcast journalism student from White Springs.

“I believe that the immunization requirement is a good idea because it is all for the benefit of the student,” Flourney said.

Others said they are supportive of the university’s steps to ensure health safety on campus.

“It is the responsibility of the university to ensure the safety of their students,” said Jeremy Burns, 19, a freshman computer engineering student from Dallas. “This not only includes physical safety, but health safety as well.”

Both hepatitis B and meningococcal meningitis can be fatal. Hepatitis B is a viral liver infection that can lead to chronic liver disease. It can be transferred through exposure to blood or other bodily fluids through work or sexual contact. The vaccine is very safe and effective. Meningitis has many different strains, but the meningococcal form Meningitis is a severe bacterial kind. It is prevalent in people between the ages of 17-24. Because it can be spread the same way as the common cold, the disease puts more people at risk.

Meningococcal meningitis must be detected within 24-48 hours of contracting it, or there is a possibility of suffering long-term effects, which include blindness, paralysis or death. The added risk to this strain is that the early symptoms resemble the symptoms of the flu, so most cases are not detected in time. This shot is highly recommended for college freshmen.

Information on the new requirement can be found on the FAMU Web site. The Student Health Center also has public service announcements available for students.