Student Health Services


Meningitis Vaccine Information

Certain college students are at increased risk for meningococcal disease; potentially fatal bacterial infection commonly referred to as meningitis. In fact students living in dorms are found to have a six-fold increased risk for the disease. The American College Health Association recommends that college students, particularly first-year students living in residence halls, learn more about meningitis and vaccination.

Pennsylvania has passed (Senate Bill 955) stating All Students Residing in a Residence Hall or Housing Unit MUST have the vaccine or sign a declination statement after having received information concerning the benefits of the meningitis vaccine.

What is meningococcal meningitis?
Meningitis is rare. But when it strikes, this potentially fatal bacterial disease can lead to swelling of fluid surrounding the brain and spinal column as well as severe and permanent disabilities, such as hearing loss, brain damage, seizures, limb amputation and even death.

How is it spread?
Meningococcal meningitis is spread through the air via respiratory secretions or close contact with an infected person. This can include coughing, sneezing, kissing or sharing items like utensils, cigarettes and drinking glasses.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of meningococcal meningitis often resemble the flu and can include high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, rash nausea, vomiting, lethargy and confusion.

Who is at risk?
Certain college students, particularly first-year students who live in dormitories or residence halls, have been found to have an increased risk for meningococcal meningitis. Other undergraduates can also consider vaccination to reduce their risk for the disease.

Can meningitis be prevented?
Yes. A safe and effective vaccine is available to protect against four of the five most common strains of the disease. Adverse reactions to the meningitis vaccine are mild and infrequent, consisting primarily of redness and pain at the injection site and rarely a fever. As with any vaccine, vaccination against meningitis may not protect 100 percent of all susceptible individuals.

For more information:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
American College Health Association