Meningococcal Disease and Vaccine Information
What is Meningococcal disease and why should I be concerned?
Most people who become infected simply carry the organism harmlessly, without illness, and eliminate it from the nose and throat within a short time by developing natural immunity. At any one time, up to 10% of the normal population may be found carrying meningococcus without illness or symptoms. Very rarely, an individual may develop an illness with signs and symptoms of fever, headache, and stiff neck, sometimes with a rash, vomiting, lethargy or change in consciousness. Anyone with these symptoms or any worsening illness accompanied by fever should seek an immediate medical evaluation at the Siena Health Service or the Emergency Department of the nearest hospital.
Since 1991, cases of Meningococcal disease among 15-24 year olds have more than doubled. Recent studies have found evidence that students residing on campus in dormitories appear to be at higher risk for Meningococcal disease. The highest risk appears to for freshmen living in dormitories. Data also suggests that certain social behaviors such as exposure to passive and active smoking, bar patronage, and excessive alcohol consumption may increase a students risk for contracting the disease.
What can be done to prevent Meningococcal Disease?
The AmericanCollege Health Association(ACHA) and theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) recommend college students, especially those living in residence halls, consider getting vaccinated to reduce their risk of Meningococcal disease. The Meningococcal vaccine is about 85 percent effective against four subtypes of Meningococcal bacteria, accounting for about two-thirds of the cases of meningitis among 18 to 23 year olds. Protection lasts at least 3 - 5 years. You should be aware that since this vaccine is considered a "preventive" treatment, most health insurance plans will not pay for it.