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Meningitis Hits FAMU Campus

September 16th, 2009 by flanews

A state college is on high alert tonight after one of its students died from a form of meningitis. Florida A&M University Senior Courtney Simms died Monday in Tallahassee from what was later confirmed as a viral form of meningitis. As Whitney Ray tells us, Florida college students arent required to get a meningitis vaccination, but in order to opt out of the shot they have to sign a waiver.

Florida A&M is mourning the loss of one of its brightest stars. FAMU Senior Courtney Simms, a journalism student who anchored a campus news show, died Monday. Health officials say she contracted a viral form of meningitis.

Even though the type of meningitis Simms contracted is contagious, the good news for students is she wasnt living on campus. A FAMU health official says people who were in close contact with Simms arent showing signs of sickness. Still students are taking extra precautions.

It could take away your life so I need to make sure that I keep myself safe and find out what I could do to prevent it from happening to me, said FAMU Freshman Alexandria Collins.

Freshman Javarius Saunders began the year concerned about Swine Flu. Now hes worried about meningitis.

I was really like, whoa, because I never knew anything about meningitis. I didnt know anything like that was contagious, said Javarius.

Rules adopted by the University Systems Board of Governors in 2008 requires all incoming students to be vaccinated or sign a form opting out. FSU had the policy in place long before the board voted.

The consequences are so tragic and severe that we want to make sure everyone of our students knows, this is an informed decision you have got to make because it could save your life, said FSU Division of Student Affairs Director Lesley Sacher.

But getting vaccinated doesnt guarantee immunity, because there are so many strains of the virus. As of right now theres no word on whether or not Simms was vaccinated.

Doctors are vaccinating children as young as 12, but the shot wears off after five years. Health experts want children who were vaccinated while they were young to get another shot before they enter college. Meningitis symptoms are similar to those of the flu, except severe neck pain accompanies meningitis.

Posted in Education, Health, State News | 5 Comments »

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