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(Jefferson City) (AP) – Students living in campus housing at Missouri’s public universities will be required to get vaccinated against bacterial meningitis beginning next year.

Legislation signed by Gov. Jay Nixon requires students to be vaccinated unless they have a signed statement for a medical or religious exemption.

Meningococcal disease can cause an inflammation of the brain lining known as meningitis. It can spread among people in crowded places such as dormitories and can strike quickly with sometimes deadly results. Some symptoms can appear similar to the flu, including fever, headaches and neck stiffness.

The vaccine requirement takes effect July 1, 2015, and was included in several bills signed Thursday by Nixon.

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