President Gary Ransdell has responded to the Student Government Association resolution passed last semester that would support the requirement of the meningitis vaccine for all incoming freshmen beginning next semester.
Currently, WKU does not require incoming freshman to be vaccinated for meningitis. SGA resolution 6-15-F, passed last semester, supports “the requirement of meningitis vaccinations for all incoming freshmen, beginning with the freshman class of 2020,” according to the resolution.
Ransdell responded via letter to the SGA detailing research he and the Administrative Council had conducted on requiring meningitis vaccines. Ransdell’s letter also elaborated on their decision not to support a university-wide requirement for a meningitis vaccine.
“Given all that we have been able to learn about meningitis and a vaccine, we have determined that we highly recommend that all students entering WKU be vaccinated, but we stop short of requiring it,” Ransdell stated in the letter. “We are reluctant to add another expense for our current or incoming students.”
According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, all public grade schools in Kentucky require their students to be vaccinated for meningitis around age 13 and receive a meningitis booster around age 16. In his letter, Ransdell said this means most students enrolling at WKU will have received the vaccine already. Students who attended private grade schools or who were homeschooled are not required to be vaccinated for meningitis.
“The resolution, therefore, speaks primarily to students who arrive at WKU through a private school in Kentucky or out-of-state students,” Ransdell said. “International students are not required to have the vaccine as part of their visa application, and a WKU requirement for a vaccine could have a chilling effect on international enrollments.”
Currently, the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville both require incoming freshman to have the meningitis vaccine, according to the schools’ websites. Eastern Kentucky University, Northern Kentucky University and WKU only recommend the meningitis vaccine although certain programs within those schools may require the vaccine.
According to the letter from Ransdell, uninsured students can get the meningitis vaccine on campus at the Graves-Gilbert Clinic for $144. Uninsured individuals can also get the vaccine from the Barren River District Health Department for $143. The University of Louisville offers the vaccine at its Campus Health Services at a discount to students, according to the Campus Health Services website.
According to the Graves-Gilbert Clinic, the cost of the meningitis vaccine for insured patients varies by insurance company.