TN legislature OK's immunization bill named for MTSU student - WSMV Channel 4

TN legislature OK's immunization bill named for MTSU student

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV-AP) -

Legislation that would require incoming students at public higher education institutions to show proof of immunization against meningitis is headed to the governor for his consideration.

The measure sponsored by Democratic House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh of Jackson passed the House 94-1 on Thursday. The companion bill unanimously passed the Senate 30-0 earlier this month.

The bill is named after Jacob Nunley, 18, a Middle Tennessee State University freshman who died last year less than 24 hours after contracting meningococcal meningitis, a bacterial infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.

The tragedy sent the entire campus into a frenzy, as it was a week-long rush to administer antibiotics to students and faculty, combined with several more weeks filled with mourning the loss of a dear friend.

The disease can be spread through close contact, such as living in a dormitory or sharing drink bottles. Ten percent of people who contract the disease die - sometimes within 24 hours.

"You're around so many people from all walks of life, especially at a big campus like MTSU. You just don't ever know what the other person might have," said Nunley's mother, Shauna McIntosh.

Nunley's mother and uncle watched Thursday as lawmakers voted a resounding "yes" to the bill, appropriately named the Jacob Nunley Act - one they hope will save lives.

"It was very emotional. I know that bill is not going to bring my son back, but it will save someone's life one day," McIntosh said.

This law would only apply to students at Tennessee's state colleges and universities, so Nunley's mother pleaded for students at private universities and colleges to get the vaccine as well.

The Jacob Nunley Act is now headed to the governor's desk for him to sign it in to law.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this repot.

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