SAN DIEGO -- San Diego State University announced Thursday that it will require all incoming students be fully vaccinated against meningococcal serogroup B beginning with the fall 2019 semester.
Students will be required to present proof of vaccination by the 10th day of classes in their first semester. Those who fail to do so will receive a hold on their account, rendering them unable to register for classes or alter their schedule until they confirm with the university they have received the full series of meningococcal B vaccines.
The decision is partly a reaction to university's three confirmed cases of meningococcal meningitis during the most recent academic year. The potentially deadly bacterial illness led county health officials to declare an outbreak on the campus and urge students, faculty and staff members who may have been affected to seek antibiotic treatment.
“We were very happy,” said Greg Stelzer, father of Sara Stelzer, a SDSU student who died from Meningitis B back in 2014. “We kept blaming ourselves because why didn’t we know about meningitis.”
Stelzer said he won’t ever forget the phone call from his daughter five years ago. She told him she thought she had the flu. Within 48 hours, she was unconscious, and placed in a coma with no brain activity. Her family raced down from the Los Angeles area to be with her in the hospital.
“When we got there, she was still in a coma and never came out of it.”
The school has worked with the university for the past few years to spread awareness about how quickly the disease can spread, and how fatal it can be. Greg told FOX5 Thursday that he thought his daughter would be proud to learn the mandated vaccine change became official.
"We support San Diego State University's decision to make it a requirement," said Dr. Eric McDonald, the medical director of the county Health and Human Services Agency's Epidemiology and Immunization Branch. "It's a very prudent requirement for incoming students because it would help to prevent them from getting the disease."
The new requirement is compliant with revised California State University immunization requirements, which are scheduled to go into effect during the fall 2020 semester. Adding meningococcal B as a required vaccine also supersedes the CSU requirements, which only list the vaccine as a recommendation.
Students will also be required to receive vaccines against measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, chicken pox, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, meningococcal serogroups A, C, Y and W-135 and tuberculosis, per the new CSU rules. Prior CSU rules only required students to receive the MMR and hepatitis B vaccines.
"As we became aware of the immunization conversations occurring at the CSU level, it was important for us to make the menB vaccine a required immunization given our ongoing meningococcal serogroup B outbreak, but more importantly, for the overall health and safety of our campus community," said Andrea Dooley, the university's associate vice president for student affairs.
According to the university, about 9,000 students have been vaccinated against meningococcal B to date.