I admit, we have a habit of writing about Texas bacterial meningitis legislation and meningitis form updates. We even wrote an action plan about it. And there's nothing stopping me from doing it again. TX bacterial meningitis legislation is changing, so let’s make sure we have all the facts in order. S.B. 62, which takes effect October 1, 2013, impacts entering students enrolling in public or private or independent institutions of higher education in Texas on or after January 1, 2014.
S.B. 62 “seeks to ensure that college students are protected from bacterial meningitis while allowing local and state immunization resources to be focused on the most vulnerable individuals and seeks to streamline the immunization exemption process by amending current law relating to the vaccination against bacterial meningitis...” (House Committee Report Bill Analysis).
Key changes to current legislation include the following:
- Amends Section 51.9192, Education Code, to
- A) Lower the minimum age at which an entering student is exempt from providing proof of vaccination or booster from 30 to 22, meaning bacterial meningitis legislation will apply to entering students 21 and younger, and provides that this section does not apply to a student enrolled only in online or other distance education courses.
- B) Require that an affidavit signed by a student stating that they decline the vaccination for reasons of conscience, including religion, be completed on the Department of State Health Services’ (DSHS) immunization affidavit form, as described by Section 161.0041*.
- It must be submitted to the appropriate official no later than 90 days after the date the affidavit is notarized.
- This does not apply to a student claiming exemption using the web-based process described below.
- Requires the DSHS to develop and implement a secure, web-based process exclusively for public junior colleges that elect to allow an entering student to apply online for an exemption for reasons of conscience. Process is to be designed to ensure duplicate requests are avoided, and must include a statement indicating the student understands the benefits and risks of not receiving the vaccination. Public junior colleges can elect to require this method exclusively for exemptions.
- Provides the Internet-based process as an alternative method of applying for exemption, provided that the student or parent/guardian submits to the institution confirmation that the student has completed the Internet-based process for declining immunization for reasons of conscience.
*Section 161.0041 of the Health and Safety Code, details the immunization exemption affidavit form.
Except where noted, all information within this blog was gathered from the Texas Legislature Online, which can be referenced for further details.