A bill in the Tennessee Senate could require incoming college students to get vaccinated for meningitis before enrolling in school.
The bill, sponsored by state senator Lowe Finney, would make proof of immunization against meningococcal disease prior to enrollment.
Doctors at Middle Tennessee State University made a nearly identical recommendation to the state after MTSU student Jacob Nunley died last August after contracting bacterial meningitis.
"Some individuals are more susceptible, namely freshman and sophomore students living in high concentrations. Infections are spread very quickly," said MTSU physician Dr. Pat Spangler.
"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," Dr. Spangler added.
Several universities, such as MTSU, University of Tennessee, UT Chattanooga and Tennessee State University, already recommend the vaccine to incoming freshmen, but the schools do not require it.
Last fall, after the death of Nunley, many MTSU students asked for the vaccine.
Dr. Spangler, however, would have liked to see more.
"I understand only about 50% of students, incoming freshmen get the vaccination, that's what I've been told. We'd like to see that number higher, obviously I'd like to see it 100%," he said.