Texas College Students Delay Meningitis Vaccine to Save Money
In the months leading up to the upcoming fall semester, Texas students have been faced with a new state vaccination requirement that can have a devastating affect on students’ Texas savings accounts.
Statewide, Texas colleges and universities have required that all college students show proof of having taken the meningitis vaccine, but this poses a problem for students on a budget as vaccine costs can be about $135 per student.
Impact of Meningitis Vaccine Costs on Texas Savings Accounts
The state of Texas has issued the meningitis vaccine requirement as a precautionary measure against a rare, but deadly disease often seen in college-aged individuals. The condition is said to be highly contagious, which is why every incoming student must show documentation that they’ve received the shot.
With the help of pulicly-funded programs like Vaccines for Children, who provides vaccinations to under-served, uninsured children up to the age of 18, this new medical requirement will create less of a sting on Texas savings accounts and emergency funds; the cost of the meningitis vaccine through these Medicaid programs is at an affordable $15 per person.
However, some Texas students have learned the hard way that delaying the vaccine for the sake of saving money has backfired and is now costing more than they expected.
Maria Cardenas, grandmother of a soon to be University of Texas at Austin student, recalled scheduling an appointment for the meningitis vaccine for her then 18-year-old grandchild. At the time, the expected out-of-pocket cost was $15. However when she rescheduled the appointment to two days after her granddaughter’s 19th birthday, she found that her college-bound grandchild was no longer eligible for benefits under the program at age 19.
As a result, Cardenas was shocked to find that the vaccine would cost $135 from their primary care physician. “Her CHIP was cut off because she turned 19, so her regular doctor said it was $135,” Cardenas said. “I figured they knew it was for college. It didn’t dawn on us there would be a big difference.”
For a Texas student $135 can mean the difference between two class textbooks, or almost a month’s food budget. As a result, many student are delaying the vaccine to keep their money in their Texas savings accounts for use toward other college-related expenses.
Have You Had the Meningitis Vaccine?
Some incoming college students may be able to avoid this added college expense if they took the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) years ago. Starting in 2010, the CDC recommended that children ages 11-12 years old receive the meningitis vaccine, with a booster shot at age 16.
If you were one of these individuals and intend on living off-campus, you may be able to save money by opting out of this requirement by filling out and signing a form, having it notarized and submitting it to the school.
If you intend of living on campus, the Texas Department of State Health Services will need to issue you an affidavit which you’ll need to sign and have notarized.
There is no benefit to spending an additional $135 to re-take the vaccine if you’ve already had it within the past five years. Save yourself time and save your Texas savings account from being dipped into unnecessarily to double-check your medical records if you’re not sure.