A Dyersburg woman watched as state lawmakers gave final approval to a bill named after her late son on Thursday.
“That bill will not bring my son back, but it will, it will save someone's life one day,” Shawna McIntosh told reporters after the House passed the Jacob Nunley Act.
Jacob Nunley died last year less than 24 hours after contracting meningococcal meningitis during his freshman year at Middle Tennessee State University.
State educational institutions in Tennessee did not have a uniform policy on meningitis immunization.
The bill, which is expected to be signed by Governor Bill Haslam after earlier passing the Senate, requires all incoming students at state universities to show proof of immunization against meningitis.
The emotional moment was shared by her brother, Chris Wilson, who was with her as the bill passed.
“My nephew's legacy will live on, and he is a hero for everyone out there, for everyone who is championing these vaccination rights,” said Wilson as stood by bill sponsors Rep. Craig Fitzhugh and Senator Lowe Finney after Thursday's vote.
Meningococcal meningitis, a bacterial infection, attacks the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.
It can be spread in close quarters such as dorm rooms where people might share items, like drink bottles.
In 10% of the cases like Jacob's, those who are infected can die, sometimes within 24-hours like the MTSU freshman did.
- Feb. 20, 2013: Tenn. bill pushes to require meningitis vaccine for college students
- Sept. 20, 2012: MTSU fraternity to host benefit in honor of meningitis victim
- Sept. 10, 2012: MTSU student dies of bacterial meningitis