Valdosta - Before students can enroll at Valdosta State University, they're required to have a series of vaccinations. "Tetanus, MMR which is measles mumps and rubella, and polio," said Debra Adams, Nurse.
But there's another important vaccination that's not required, but could save their life. "The meningococcal vaccine is recommended for college students who'll be living in the dormitories," said Adams.
The vaccine creates a shield against meningococcal disease, which is the leading cause of meningitis. The virus kills about 15 percent of its victims, and leaves even more with devastating side effects. "Of those who live, another 11 to 19 percent will lose their arms or legs, become deaf or have other serious complications with their nervous system," said Adams.
Meningitis is transmitted by close respiratory contact. Students who live in dorms share small, confined rooms and sleep just a few feet from each other, putting them at a higher risk for the disease. "About 20 percent of all U.S. cases occur in people ages 14 to 24," said Adams.
Meningitis is treatable with antibiotics if the symptoms are caught soon enough. "Headache, stiff neck, the person may have vomiting and diarrhea and usually there is fever associated," said Adams.
Still, the best line of defense is the vaccine, and it doesn't come cheap. "It may vary from place to place around $95.00 per dose," said Adams.
But it's a small price to pay for something that could make the difference between life and death.