Bacterial Meningitis

The Alamo Colleges District is required to collect and process student bacterial meningitis information.  

The Law

Texas State Law (SB 1107) established the requirement for students entering any Texas institution of higher education to provide proper documentation showing they have received the bacterial meningitis vaccination within five years and at least 10 calendar days before the beginning of the semester.

What is Bacterial Meningitis

Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord.  Meningitis is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection.  The severity of illness and treatment differs depending on whether it is caused by a virus or bacterium.  Viral meningitis is generally less severe and clears up without specific treatment.  Bacterial meningitis can progress extremely fast, be severe and may result in brain damage, amputations, hearing and vision loss, learning disabilities or death.  It is also important to know what type of bacterial meningitis, because antibiotics can prevent some types from spreading and infecting other people.

Further information can be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC). 

Step 1 - Determine If The Law Applies

Determine If The Law Applies

1. Does the Bacterial Meningitis law apply to me?

YES, if you are
 
NO, you are exempt if you are:
  • under 22 years old. AND
  • Enrolling for the first time as a credit student. OR
  • Returning after a break in enrollment of at least one fall or spring semester. OR
  • A Transferring or Transient student to one of the colleges in the Alamo Colleges District family from another college or university.
  • A Continuing Education student enrolled in a program of 360 hours or more
 
  • 22 years of age or older by the first day of the semester. OR
  • A student not taking courses on a campus in the Alamo Colleges District family (online or distance education). OR
  • Enrolled continuously in one of the colleges in the Alamo Colleges District family since fall 2011. OR
  • Taking Continuing Education classes in a program of less than 360 hours.

 

2. How to comply with the law

  • Submit proof of having received the bacterial meningitis vaccination within the last 5 years. OR
  • Opt out of the vaccine by submitting an exemption form based on medical reasons, conscientious objection or taking only online courses.
Step 2 - Gather Documents

Gather Documents

1. Acceptable proof of having received the bacterial meningitis vaccination

  • A form with the signature or stamp of a physician, designee, or public health personnel with the agency name and address; which documents when (month, date, four-digit year) the vaccination or booster was administered.
  • An official immunization record generated from a state or local health authority.
  • An official record received from school officials, including a record from another state.

 

2. Acceptable documentation for medical exemption

  • A certificate signed by a physician who is duly registered and licensed to practice medicine in the United States.  In which it is stated that, in the physician’s opinion, the vaccination required would be injurious to the health and well-being of the student.
  • A letter on the physician’s letterhead with the above statement that includes the physician's signature and date.
  • Prescription notes and letters over 2 weeks old will not be accepted.

 

3. Acceptable documentation for taking only online courses

  • Complete the Bacterial Meningitis Online Waiver in ACES
  • Select the college you wish to attend.
  • Waiver is for 3 weeks. 
  • Form must be updated and resubmitted for each term or semester only online courses are taken.

 

4. Acceptable documentation for conscientious objection exemption

Step 3 - Submit Documents

Submit Documents

Allow 2 to 5 business days for processing

1. To submit vaccination records, or medical exemption

  • Log in to ACES. Go to the Student tab.
    • Click the HOLDS link located under Academic Profile.
    • Look for the bacterial meningitis hold. You will not see the hold unless the law applies to you.
    • A “BM” will show you meet the criteria and must submit the documentation before the hold is removed to allow for registration.

  • Under the Start Here tab, click Submit Bacterial Meningitis Forms Here link in Bacterial Meningitis box. You will be redirected to the ACES document upload portal. Complete the process as directed.

  • Your college enrollment team will review your documents and contact you if your documentation is rejected. Your hold will be removed within two to three business days after approval.

2. To submit the conscientious objection exemption

  • Log in to ACES.  Go to the Student tab.  Click the HOLDS link located under Academic Profile. Look for the bacterial meningitis hold.  You will not see the hold unless the law applies to you. A “BM” will show you meet the criteria and must submit the documentation before the hold is removed to allow for registration.

  • Under the Start Here tab, click Submit Bacterial Meningitis Forms Here link in Bacterial Meningitis box.  You will be redirected to the ACES document upload portal. Complete the process as directed. 

  • If you are submitting the community college conscientious objection form (https://corequestjc.dshs.texas.gov/) you will upload in the same ACES portal.

  • Your college enrollment team will review your documents and contact you if your documentation is rejected. Your hold will be removed within two to three business days after approval.

3. To submit the online courses only waiver

  • Under the Start Here tab, click Submit Bacterial Meningitis Forms Here link in Bacterial Meningitis box.  You will be redirected to the ACES document upload portal. Complete the process as directed. 

  • Your hold will be removed once the online course waiver affidavit is submitted.  No forms are required for this waiver.  This hold will be waived for three weeks to allow you to register; if you are not able to register within three weeks, you will need to resubmit the online courses waiver. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I have a temporary condition that does not allow me to receive the vaccination at this time?

Students receiving postponement due to illness must still meet the deadline of submitting Bacterial Meningitis vaccination documentation no later than 10 days prior to the start of the semester.

How do I access my ACES account?

Use the link below for information on using ACES, obtaining your ACES user name and Banner ID.
https://alamoaces.alamo.edu/ 

Where do I send the required documentation?

Documents will no longer be submitted to any of the Alamo Colleges.

Submit documentation through your ACES student portal on the "Start Here" tab under the Bacterial Meningitis (BM) section.

What is considered an acceptable meningitis vaccine?

The meningitis vaccine recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are MCV4 and MPSV4 which offer the protection for meningitis groups A, C, Y and W-135. MCV4 and MPSV4 are the only vaccines currently accepted. Please visit the CDC website for more information.

The Texas Department of State Health Services and the American College Health Association Immunization Guidelines agree with the CDC recommendation.

I am active duty military, do I need to have the meningitis vaccination?

 Active duty military students will need to show proof of having the bacterial meningitis vaccination.  The Higher Education Coordinating Board regulations pertaining to meningitis are in 19 TAC 21.613 (vaccination requirements) and 21.614 (exceptions), which is under Title 19, Education, Chapter 21, Student Services.  The exceptions in 21.614 do not include active duty military.

·      The waivers for medical necessity, conscience exemption and taking online courses only do pertain.

I've had the vaccine; do I need to get it again?

 The bacterial meningitis vaccination expires five years after the date it is received. The vaccination must be within the five years on the first day of classes for the semester starting.

What is the latest I can get my vaccination?

The vaccine must be in the body a minimum of 10 days before starting classes.

When should I comply with the vaccination requirements?
  •  Newly admitted students should obtain the required vaccination and documentation upon submitting your application*
  • Returning students should obtain the required vaccination or booster and submit documentation before they will be able to register for the semester.


*Proof of vaccination is not required to be considered for admission. 

Once I submit my documentation, how do I know if it has been approved?

The hold will be removed.  Students can log onto ACES and access their student account.

What are the common reasons you would not accept my documentation for proof of bacterial meningitis immunization?

The most common reasons include:

• Record is not legible – the copy is not clear or important information is cut off.
• Documentation is not recognized – many doctors will use their own form of abbreviation or documentation that cannot be deciphered.
• Incomplete dates – dates must include the day, month and year.
• Invalid vaccine – documentation submitted does not include the specific type of bacterial meningitis vaccine or is for an unacceptable vaccine or the vaccination is too old.

What happens if I don't provide the necessary documentation?

You will not be able to register for classes until the proper documentation is received.

Where can students get the bacterial meningitis vaccine (including those without insurance)?

The bacterial meningitis vaccine is available at most doctors’ offices and private clinics, many large pharmacy chains, and some minor emergency centers or medi-clinics.  It is best to call to make an appointment at most of these sites.

Students with medical insurance, Medicaid or CHIP: 

The first thing is to make sure your insurance covers the immunization.  Then contact your established medical provider to see if they offer the vaccine.  If you choose to go to a different facility please call to be sure they accept your insurance.

Students without medical insurance or whose insurance does not cover the bacterial meningitis vaccine: 

·      If the student is 18 or younger they may qualify for the Texas Vaccines for Children Program.  The United Way helpline, 211, will help find providers who participate in this program.

·      Many health departments offer the meningitis vaccine as part of children and adult immunizations programs.  You should call to confirm that they offer the meningitis vaccine for the student’s age and circumstances.  A list of “full service” city and county health departments in Texas can be found at http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/regions/lhds.shtm  

·      In San Antonio, the University Health System will provide certain vaccinations at their clinics.  Be sure to call to confirm the clinic you choose offers the bacterial meningitis vaccine.  You can get the list of clinics at http://www.universityhealthsystem.com look for the “Clinic Information” section.

What if I am an international student?

Will a vaccination from my home country fulfill the Alamo Colleges requirements? 

A vaccination record from a country outside the U.S. can meet the requirements, if the vaccine given meets the CDC requirements and if the vaccination record is in English.  If the vaccination record is in a language other than English, an English translation of the document will be required.

 

How far in advance should I plan to arrive in the U.S. in order to receive the vaccination? 

If you plan to receive the vaccine in the U.S. you should arrive no later than 3 weeks prior to the first day of classes.  This will give you enough time for the 10 day waiting period and time for your documents to be processed.  You must receive the vaccination at least 10 days before the first day of classes for the semester.

 

Can I present medical documentation from my country in order to get an exemption due to medical reasons?  

Unfortunately, the law requires that you visit a doctor in the U.S. to be able to get an exemption for medical reasons.  We suggest that you bring an English translation of your records with you, so that you can present them to a U.S. physician.  Be sure your travel arrangements will give you enough time to see a physician in the U.S. and submit your documentation to the college.

 

How can I get an exemption for reasons of conscience?  

You must follow the same guidelines and procedures outline for domestic students.  Please visit the Texas Department of State Health Services for more information.  https://webds.dshs.state.tx.us/immco/default.aspx  

Who should I call if I still have questions?

For information about bacterial meningitis and the vaccination, contact the CDC at: 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636)