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Bill to Ensure Adequate Defense against Meningitis on NJ College Campuses Approved by Assembly

Aiming to help protect students at New Jersey’s four-year colleges and universities from meningitis outbreaks, the Assembly recently approved bipartisan legislation sponsored in part by Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji by a vote of 61-13-3.

“This bill would create a proactive policy that mirrors the CDC’s recommendations to help prevent potential outbreaks in the future,” said Sumter (D-Bergen, Passaic). “In addition, this legislation may even reduce the severity or impact of illness that could create a public health crisis on a college or university campus if exposed.”

The bill (A-1991) would revise the requirement for residential students in four-year institutions of higher education to receive immunization against meningococcal disease so that immunizations would follow the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Students already deal with the academic, physical and emotional stress that can accompany college life,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “This bill will help ensure that outbreaks of this kind will be one less issue of which they need to be concerned.”

Outbreaks of serogroup B meningococcal disease have occurred at Princeton University and Rutgers University over the last several years. The introduction of new meningitis B vaccines and revised recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will help address potential future outbreaks and increase the immunization rates among New Jersey students attending four-year institutions of higher education.

The bill was introduced January 9, 2018 and cleared by the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee on December 3, 2018. It now heads to the Senate for further consideration.