Most Universities Recommend Meningitis B Vaccine For New Students But Few Require It
There are some things that make college great: living in dorms, going to parties and sharing everything with your close friends.
It’s those conditions that also make college students more prone than most to transmittable diseases such as Meningitis B.
But while almost all colleges and universities in Pennsylvania strongly recommend students be vaccinated against the potentially fatal Meningitis B, only a few require it.
All Pennsylvania college students living in on-campus housing are required by state law to get a meningitis vaccine that covers four strains of the disease but doesn’t protect against the B strain. According to the CDC, 60 percent of 16- to 23-year-olds who contract meningitis have the B strain.
In 2018, three Pennsylvania college students contracted Meningitis B, according to Nate Wardle, a spokesman for the state Department of Health.
One was a Penn State student living on its University Park campus, who eventually recovered.
Penn State strongly recommends a Meningitis B vaccine and stocks it at its student health center, but does not require it. The university’s infectious diseases manager, Shelley Haffner, urged new students to get the vaccine anyway.
Its important for college students because of their social and living arrangements. You have a greater risk for any kind of disease, Haffner said. If you can prevent a disease, why not?
A Big 10 school, Penn State doesn’t require the vaccine because it’s not mandated by the CDC.
Why An Increase In Meningitis Outbreaks On College Campuses
When you are in a situation with a whole bunch of people who share items like cups, water bottles, lipstick or engage in unhygienic behavior, it just magnifies the risk, said Sankar Swaminathan, MD, division chief of infectious diseases at University of Utah Health.
Meningococcal disease is bacterial and causes bloodstream infections and meningitis. College students, especially those living in residence halls, are prone to contracting the disease because of their close proximity to each other.
In the face of the meningitis outbreaks, Princeton University will begin offering students a vaccine that not approved in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration gave the green light last week to allow the use of Bexsero, a type B meningitis vaccine. The vaccine is only licensed in Europe and Australia. Students will remain at high-risk until the disease has run its course. This vaccine will help protect students who have not been exposed, said Swaminathan.
Its easy to mistake the early signs of meningitis for the flu. Both have symptoms that include a high fever, vomiting and nausea. But according to Swaminathan anytime a high fever is accompanied by a severe headache you should see a doctor right away. Other symptoms of meningitis also include confusion, stiff neck, seizures, sleepiness, and sensitivity to light.
Meningococcal Vaccine And College Students
On September 30, 1997, the American College Health Association ,which represents about half of colleges that have student health services, released astatement recommending that “college health services a more proactive role inalerting students and their parents about the dangers of meningococcal disease,” that”college students consider vaccination against potentially fatal meningococcaldisease,” and that “colleges and universities ensure all students have access to avaccination program for those who want to be vaccinated” . Parent andcollege student advocates have also encouraged more widespread use ofmeningococcal vaccine in college students. In a joint study by ACHA and CDC, surveys were sentto 1,200 ACHA-member schools of 691 responding schools, 57 reported thatpre-exposure meningococcal vaccination campaigns had been conducted on theircampus since September 1997. A median of 32 students were vaccinated at each school . During the 1998–1999 school year,3%–5% of 148 students enrolled in a case-control study reported receiving prophylacticmeningococcal vaccination . Before the 1999 fall semester, many schools mailedinformation packets to incoming freshmen data are not yet available regarding theproportion of students who have been vaccinated.
Cost-effectiveness of meningococcal vaccine incollege students
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Required Acknowledgement Of Meningitis Information
In accordance with New York State Public Health Law section 2167, all students enrolled for at least six semester hours, or the equivalent, at Suffolk County Community College, both matriculated and non-matriculated, are required to acknowledge that they have received information about meningococcal disease and vaccination.
Students must indicate, on the Health History and Meningitis Acknowledgement form,either that they have received the meningitis vaccine within the past 10 years or that they have decided not to obtain the meningitis vaccine. All students who have received the vaccine must submit appropriate documentation of the vaccination.
Students who fail to submit the required acknowledgement will not be permitted to register for classes and will be subject to withdrawal.
Do I Have To Get The Meningitis Vaccination
- Entering students 22 years of age or older by the first day of class for the semester are exempt.
- Students taking online classes only should submit an Online Enrollment Only Exemption Request form
- If your physician recommends that for health reasons the student not receive the immunization, the student should submit a Vaccine Requirement Form and submit a note from the physician. The signed note should be on either office letterhead or on prescription paper.
- If for reasons of conscience, including religious belief you are declining the vaccination, students should submit a completed Vaccine Requirement Form and an Affidavit from the Texas Department of State Health Services. Initiate your request to TDSHS well before your intended orientation date. It may take several weeks to receive your form during peak times.
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Meningitis: Why College Students Are So Vulnerable
University campuses across the country are seeing an outbreak of meningitis. Health officials most recently confirmed three cases of Meningococcal Disease at University of California, Santa Barbara. This comes after six Princeton University students and one campus visitor were hospitalized with the disease. Another New Jersey student from Monmouth University was also diagnosed with Meningitis in November.
Determine If The Law Applies
1. Does the Bacterial Meningitis law apply to me?
YES, if you are
NO, you are exempt if you are:
2. How to comply with the law
- Submit proof of having received the bacterial meningitis vaccination within the last 5 years. OR
- Opt out of the vaccine by submitting an exemption form based on medical reasons, conscientious objection or taking only online courses.
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Do College Students Need Mmr
In the U.S., almost everyone receives the CDC-recommended two doses of MMR, the vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella, as young children. The MMR affords good protection against these diseases, and routine vaccination with a third dose of MMR isnt necessary for all students.
Still, there are some circumstances in which youll want your student to get a dose of MMR before he or she arrives on campus. If for some reason your child didnt receive MMR vaccination at a young age, they should have two doses, separated by 28 days.
Heres why: Although most recent measles outbreaks havent been on college campuses, they are considered high-risk settings. Mumps is sometimes a concern for college students as well. Between 2015 and 2017, two large outbreaks at universities in Iowa and Illinois caused several hundred students to get sick.
The CDC usually recommends that people in communities with an active mumps outbreak receive an additional dose of MMR. A 2017 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that a mumps booster in an outbreak significantly reduced the risk of infection. For measles outbreaks, the CDC recommends people who arent adequately vaccinated catch up, but people generally dont need an extra dose of MMR if they’re already immune to measles.
Editor’s Note: Catherine Roberts contributed reporting to this story.
Are Students Required To Get Meningococcal Vaccine Before College
Yes. Massachusetts law requires the following students receive quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine :
- Secondary School : newly enrolled full-time students who will be living in a dormitory or other congregate housing licensed or approved by the secondary school must provide documentation of having received a dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine at any time in the past.
- Postsecondary Institutions : newly enrolled full-time students 21 years of age and younger must provide documentation of having received a dose of quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine on or after their 16th birthday, regardless of housing status.
Immunizations should be obtained prior to enrollment or registration however, students may be enrolled or registered provided that the required immunizations are obtained within 30 days of registration. There is no requirement for meningococcal B vaccination. However, adolescents and young adults may also be vaccinated with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine, preferably at 16 through 18 years of age, to provide short term protection for most strains of serogroup B meningococcal disease.
More information about requirements and exemptions may be found in the MDPH document Information about Meningococcal Disease, Meningococcal Vaccines, Vaccination Requirements and the Waiver for Students at Colleges and Residential Schools.
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A Washington Mom’s Message About Meningococcal Disease
“Bacterial meningitis killed my daughter, Nadia. I don’t want it to happen to you or someone you love. You can help prevent meningitis by getting vaccinated with meningococcal vaccines.” – Karin Willett
Karin believes there are three things college students can do to stay healthy: 1. Keep informed on health issues. 2. Adopt healthy habits. 3. GET VACCINATED!”
Read Nadia’s Story and make sure you get vaccinated against meningococcal disease.
“Through this horrendous experience of seeing my child suffer and then die, I must do something. My dream is to help just ONE CHILD and their family not go through this devastating disease. I must try to help eliminate meningitis from the face of the earth! We must work together!” Karin Willett
Massachusetts School Immunization Requirements 2021
Requirements apply to all full-time undergraduate and graduate students under 30 years of age and all full and part-time health science students. This includes full or part-time students attending any postsecondary institution while on a student or other visa, including foreign exchange students attending or visiting classes as part of an academic visitation or exchange program. Meningococcal requirements apply to the group specified in the table below.
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Meet A Washington Meningitis B Survivor
Kaley Dugger got sick with meningitis B in 2004 when she was seven years old. She survived! She graduated from Seattle University and is a strong advocate for both meningococcal vaccination and people with disabilities. Read Kaley’s Story and make sure you get vaccinated against meningococcal disease.
“I wait desperately for the day that no one dies from this preventable disease. Until then, I plan to raise awareness about meningitis and encourage everyone to consider vaccinating against this deadly threat.” – Kaley Dugger
Submitting Proof Of Vaccination
Do not submit your vaccination proof to Undergraduate Admissions or the Student Health Center.
Texas State uses Magnus Health SMR for managing compliance with the meningitis vaccination requirement. New students planning to enroll at Texas State must submit proof of meningitis vaccination directly to Magnus Health SMR. Students subject to the bacterial meningitis requirement will receive an email from Magnus Health SMR with instructions. Students will be charged $10 by Magnus Health SMR for processing the documents and verifying compliance with the vaccination requirement. Acceptable evidence of vaccination may include any of the following:
- An official immunization record from a government health authority .
- An official immunization record received from school officials, including a record from another state .
- Students using a pharmacy should download and provide the pharmacist with the generic immunization form available on the Magnus website, once they have paid their processing fee, to ensure they receive an approvable document from the pharmacist . H-E-B customers should request their Vaccine Administration Consent Form for submission to Magnus.
- All records must be in English to be approved.
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More Information About Meningococcal Meningitis
Meningitis, also called the meninges, is an inflammation of the covering of the brain and spinal cord. More information about the causes, symptoms, types, risks and seriousness, as well as ways to prevent meningococcal meningitis, is available through the following links.
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Are Students In College At Risk For Meningococcal Disease
In the 1990s, college freshmen living in residence halls were identified as being at increased risk for meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease and outbreaks in young adults were primarily due to serogroup C. However, following many years of routine vaccination of young people with quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine , serogroup B is now the primary cause of meningococcal disease and outbreaks in young adults. Among the approximately 9 million students aged 18-21 years enrolled in college, there are an average of 20 cases and 2-4 outbreaks due to serogroup B reported annually.
Although incidence of serogroup B meningococcal disease in college students is low, college students aged 18-21 years are at increased risk compared to non-college students. The close contact in college residence halls, combined with certain behaviors , may put college students at increased risk.
Is there a vaccine against meningococcal disease?
Yes, there are 2 different meningococcal vaccines.
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Measles Mumps And Rubella
Most people born after 1957 in the U.S. are immunized against measles, but sometimes they missed a dose in childhood. Without both of the required shots, your college student may not have full immunity. Check your childs immunization records, and schedule a booster if necessary.
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Deadly Meningitis B Targets College Students
Investigators from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that students who were aged 18 to 24 were 3.5 times more likely to contract meningitis B than their peers who were not in school.
The research team, led by Dr. Sarah Mbaeyi from the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said the finding highlights the urgent need to ensure that all students get vaccinated against the disease before they head off to a university.
“Meningitis B is an uncommon but potentially deadly bacterial infection that leads to inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord,” explained Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
A meningitis B infection may “also may lead to meningococcal sepsis, or bacteria invading the bloodstream,” added Glatter, who was not part of the study. “The combination of these factors can make it lethal in less than 24 hours.”
The latest findings essentially confirm long-standing fears about college-related vulnerabilities, given that “the bacteria that leads to meningitis B lives in the nose and throat and can be spread by close contact from coughing, sneezing or kissing,” Glatter noted.
The findings were published in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics.
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Which Colleges And Universities Currently Require The Meningitis B Vaccine Where Have There Been Past Cases
MenB is more common among those 16-23 and is 5+ times more likely in college students. Yet few colleges are requiring the Meningitis B vaccine. There are 5,300 colleges and universities, and more than 30,000 high schools in the United States. We only know of 42 schools currently requiring Meningitis B vaccination.
schools requiring MenB vaccination
schools with past MenB case
schools recommending MenB vaccination
Scroll down to see the list of schools. Data is compiled based on publicly available data from campus immunization forms.
SCHOOLS CURRENTLY REQUIRING MENB VACCINATION
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“Most colleges send you a health form to fill out before you go. That’s your opportunity to visit your pediatrician and talk about your immunization record. But of course, you can always contact your doctor any time with questions.”
William Schaffner, MD, president, National Foundation for Infectious Diseases professor, chairman, department of preventive medicine, professor of medicine, division of infectious diseases, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
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