Letter from Health Services
Department of Health Services
Carrollton, Georgia 30118-4700
April 1, 2012
As the Director of Health Services at the University of West Georgia, I am writing to inform families about two health issues parents may want to prepare for prior to sending your freshman to campus.
Immunization requirements for admission to the University System of Georgia's 34 institutions changed on January 1, 2005. BOR Policy 408.02 was updated to insure that students are protected against communicable diseases that are preventable and to reduce the likelihood of an epidemic on a USG campus. This policy and the chart of required /recommended immunizations can be found at http://www.usg.edu/student_affairs. The Certificate of Immunization for West Georgia can be reviewed at the Admissions or Health Services website. Immunizations I through VII must be obtained before admission is complete. To facilitate this process, UWG Health Services will offer vaccines (at cost) to all admitted students during the summer orientation sessions. Please see the pharmacy listing at http://www.westga.edu/health for estimated vaccine costs.
Secondly, the University System of Georgia recommends all incoming freshmen receive the Meningiococcal vaccine. On October 20, 1999, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to recommend that college students, particularly freshmen living in residence halls, be educated about meningitis and the benefits of vaccination. The panel based its recommendation on recent studies showing that college students, particularly students in residence halls, have a six fold increased risk of meningitis. In May 2003, the Georgia Legislature passed a bill stating all college students in residence halls will either have the vaccine or sign a waver stating they know about meningiococcal meningitis and do not want to be vaccinated.
Meningitis is rare; the last case of Meningiococcal meningitis at UWG was in 1993. However, meningitis presents with flu-like symptoms, which makes diagnosis difficult. If not treated very quickly, meningitis can lead to swelling of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord which can lead to severe, permanent disabilities, such as hearing loss, brain damage, seizures, limb amputation and even death. The population of affected people, which have doubled since 1991, are young adults 15 to 24 years of age. Between 100 and 125 meningitis cases occur on college campuses each year with as many as 15 students dying from the disease.
Fortunately, the Menectra vaccine was developed to protect individuals against the four types of Meningococcus that cause meningitis in the United States--types A, C, Y and W-135. These types cause two thirds of the Meningococcal meningitis among students. Please become informed about this vaccine: two good websites are the CDC at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo or the American College Health Association at www.acha.org .
Our expectations are that students will be immunized before starting classes at the University of West Georgia. To verify the vaccine information received by UWG, please go to http://www.westga.edu/health and enter Check Your Immunization Status using your student ID.
Leslie T. Cottrell, MD FAAFP