The father of the Dakota Wesleyan University student who died of bacterial meningitis in September wants to clear the air about his son’s death.

Jim Keeter, father of 19-year old Beau Keeter, said Thursday his son was vaccinated for meningitis before attending college. According to Jim Keeter, Beau and other college-bound graduates of Miller High School received the meningococcal vaccine at the armory in Miller.

Beau Keeter, a student-athlete at DWU, was found dead Sept. 23 in his dormitory room after experiencing flu-like symptoms one day earlier.

Keeter’s father wanted to raise awareness that his son was vaccinated and that the meningococcal vaccine isn’t 100 percent effective. Keeter said many people assumed his son wasn’t vaccinated.

“It feels bad,” Keeter said. “It feels like we sent our son to school and didn’t vaccinate him.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the meningococcal vaccine for any first-year college student living in a residence hall. Keeter, of St. Lawrence, was in his first year at DWU and lived on campus at Dayton Hall.

Keeter still has questions about his son’s death and wondered about the effectiveness of the meningococcal vaccine.

“How did my kid die after he was vaccinated?” Keeter said. “That’s what I want to know.”

Lon Kightlinger, state epidemiologist, could not be reached Thursday by The Daily Republic to address Keeter's concerns about the vaccinations.

According to the CDC, about 500 people die every year from bacterial meningitis. Because the illness can be contagious, DWU offered to pay for a prophylactic antibiotic for those who may have been in close contact with Beau.

Meningococcal disease, which is an infection of the covering of the brain and the spinal cord, remains dangerous even for those who received the vaccine and people being treated for the disease after diagnosis. According to the CDC, about 1,000 people get meningococcal disease in the U.S. every year and about 10 to 15 percent of those die even after being treated with antibiotics like penicillin.


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