Sample Parent Letter
The State University of New York is writing to inform you about meningococcal disease, a potentially fatal bacterial infection commonly referred to as meningitis, and a new law in New York State. On July 22, 2003, Governor Pataki signed New York State Public Health Law (NYS PHL) §2167 requiring institutions, including colleges and universities, to distribute information about meningococcal disease and vaccination to all students meeting the enrollment criteria, whether they live on or off campus. This law is effective on August 15, 2003.
Meningitis is rare. However, when it strikes, its flu-like symptoms make diagnosis difficult. If not treated early meningitis can lead to swelling of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal column as well as severe and permanent disabilities, such as hearing loss, brain damage, seizures, limb amputation and even death.
Cases of meningitis among teens and young adults 15 to 24 years of age (the age of most college students) have more than doubled since 1991. The disease strikes about 3,000 Americans each year and claims about 300 lives. Between 100 and 125 meningitis cases occur on college campuses and as many as 15 students will die from the disease.
A vaccine is available that protects against four types of the bacteria that cause meningitis in the United States - types A, C, Y and W-135. These types account for nearly two thirds of meningitis cases among college students.
If you wish to receive the meningococcal meningitis vaccine (Menomune), it is available either through your private health care provider, the campus health center and/or the county Department of Health. The cost of the vaccine usually ranges from $60.00 to $85.00. Please check with your campus health center for details.
Please make sure you complete and return the enclosed Meningococcal Meningitis Response Form within 30 days of the beginning of the semester. Please note that according to NYS Public Health Law no institution shall permit any student to attend the institution in excess of 30 days without complying with this law. The 30 day period may be extended to 60 days if a student can show a good faith effort to comply.
To learn more about meningitis and the vaccine, please feel free to contact our health service and/or consult your child's physician. You can also find information about the disease at the New York State Department of Health , the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American College Health Association (ACHA).