Vaccine Mandate Has Contributed to the Sharp Enrollment Drop at Texas Community Colleges

With the recent recession came a corresponding boom at two-year colleges as students sought to gain marketable job skills without shelling out big bucks to attend costlier four-year institutions.

That boom is now over, and the numbers in Texas are bearing that out. Between fall 2011 and fall 2012, 2.7 percent decline in enrollment at community colleges, according to data compiled by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. In North Texas, the drop was 1.8 percent.

This isn't surprising. As the factors that drove enrollment growth -- a weak economy, lots of people out of work -- have reversed, it's predictable that community college enrollment would do. But a THECB report released last month suggests an additional factor: meningitis vaccines.

The vaccine, a dose of which can run to more than $125, nearly twice the cost of a credit at most Texas community colleges, was mandated by the state legislature for incoming students under the age of 30 who enroll all Texas colleges. The bill named for two Texans who contracted the bacterial meningitis at college, was meant to prevent future cases of the brain-destroying disease, which spreads easily in close quarters like dorm rooms.

There is little hard data, but Rey Garcia, president of the Texas Association of Community Colleges, told Inside Higher Ed that it's a contributing factor to the enrollment decline.

"It might be the shot requirement is just the last straw for a student struggling to navigate college matriculation," he told the publication.

State Sen. Jane Nelson, a Republican from Flower Mound, has filed a bill for the legislative session that starts next week that would lower the age at which students are exempt from the law from 30 years to 21. That obviously wouldn't do much to help an 18-year-old struggling to pay community college tuition, but it makes sense since you won't find many 29-year-olds living in dorm rooms.

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Montemalone topcommenter

Which Perry donor has the vaccine concession?


I agree. I was considering taking a continuing education class to learn how to swim, but the vaccine has given me pause.  I survived four years in the dorm, four year's of on campus classes for my bachelor's and
three years of on campus classes for my master's but I'm still under 30. Plus, I work at a high school and survived the swine flu although several of my students contracted it! I will spend fewer than two hours on
campus each week for a total of four weeks. Why do I really need this shot?


Really? The title of this article suggests that the mandate "HAS" contributed to the enrollment decline. The expert you cite is not so sure suggesting there is little data on the matter. In fact he simply suggests that it would make sense that it was a contributing factor. It has been really cold this year - I guess the weather would also be a contributing factor. Perhaps the answer to the problem is to include the cost of the shot in their student fees and administer it on campus. That way they could get a student loan to cover the cost...

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

If vaccinations are mandated, they should be administered free of charge.  I would mandate flu vaccinations as well as meningitis vaccination.

scottindallas topcommenter

Why not bring the vaccines to the schools?  The parents should be asked to sign permission slips and then the health administrators come with the needles.  Isn't this far more efficient than requiring a physical for kids, most of which don't need them for medical reasons, but to simply comply.   But, the point is that we have all the patients concentrated in a few locales, it should be easier to bring the doctors to the kids than vice versa.  This is all part and parcel of my idea that schools should have some medical facilities as well as later hours (in elementary schools) for after school care.  This too would be far more cost effective and easier than shuttling kids across town after 3/4 of the day is complete.  Many, if not most schools ARE open with afterschool programs, it's just that these aren't available to everyone.  I'm not uncritical about schools, and the big gov't opposition some may have to my proposal.  But, I believe this is a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  


@Montemalone Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. They're one of the big producers of meningitis vaccines and were quite charitable with the campaign funding, vis-a-vis Rick Perry. (I didn't know, I had to Google it.)

scottindallas topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz That flu vaccine won't do anything for you.  You'd be better off making and using your own chicken stock with fresh herbs regularly.  That is at least an Anti-viral, and anti-biotic--more than your doctor will give your for the flu. 

scottindallas topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz @scottindallas the flu that's going around is not covered by the shot.  I've never had one and seldom get extended colds/flues.  I have 3 kids in school and get whatever is going around, but I boil a chicken, load it up with fresh organic herbs, carrots, celery, onion and garlic and that ususally does it.  

In fact, science backs this up.  The herbs have antibiotic properties and the chicken anti-viral.  There's a reason why they call it Jewish penicillin. 

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