FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 22, 2001
The Texas Senate today (Thursday) unanimously passed legislation to provide information to prevent the spread of meningitis. Senate Bill 31 by Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, seeks to educate Texas families about the seriousness of meningitis and the preventative efforts that are available to stop the spread of this life-threatening disease.
SB 31 directs the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Texas Education Agency to ensure that college students, school children and parents receive information about meningitis, including the availability, effectiveness and side effects of vaccines, symptoms and risks of contracting the disease.
In a show of support for the measure, the Texas Medical Association issued a letter advising members about the symptoms of the disease and informing them about preventative efforts, including the availability of a vaccine.
Senators David Bernsen, D-Beaumont; Frank Madla, D-San Antonio; Mike Moncrief, D-Fort Worth; Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound; and Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, co-sponsored the bill.
"Prevention starts with information," Sen. Zaffirini said. "Families need to know how the disease is spread, recognize its symptoms and realize that vaccinations are available to protect loved ones.
"Today's success reflects the moving testimony of the brave families who traveled to Austin on Feb. 15 to testify before the Texas Senate Committee on Health and Human Services about the devastating effects of this disease, today's victory is theirs."
Families from Arlington, Conroe, Houston, San Antonio and Shepard told committee members about the ravages of meningitis. Leslie Meigs of Houston, a 10-year-old meningitis survivor, described how the dreaded disease changed her life.
Linda Williams of Shepard testified on behalf of her sister, Donna Brock, who is rearing her granddaughter, Harley Beaty. The disease severely damaged the four-year-old girl's hearing and continues to cause numerous health problems.
Clarissa Hansen of Arlington expressed her profound sadness at the loss of her son, Jason Gully, after he contracted the disease on his first day at college. Frankie Milley of Conroe also told of losing her son, Ryan, to the disease 14 hours after he contracted it. Ryan was graduated from high school two months earlier.