Tennessee lawmakers sponsor meningitis requirement for public universities

A bill in the Tennessee State Senate could require incoming public college students to show proof they have been vaccinated against meningitis before enrolling.

The measure is being sponsored by Senator Lowe Finney (D-Jackson) and House Minority Leader Representative Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley). The bill was scheduled to be debated last week, but was delayed for unknown reasons, according to

Doctors at Middle Tennessee State University made a similar recommendation to the state last year after MTSU student Jacob Nunley died from bacterial meningitis. Several Tennessee universities, including MTSU, the University of Tennessee, UT Chattanooga and Tennessee State University, already recommend the vaccine to incoming freshmen, but it is not a requirement, according to

MTSU physician Dr. Pat Spangler said that many MTSU students asked to be administered the vaccine after Nunley's death, but he would have liked to have seen more.

"Some individuals are more susceptible, namely freshman and sophomore students living in high concentrations. Infections are spread very quickly," Spangler said, reports. "In that age group they're away from home for the first time they may not get the number of hours of sleep every day. They may not be eating well. And their immune system may be compromised because of that."