Please be advised, the American College Health Association and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices strongly recommend immunization against meningococcal disease to all incoming college freshmen living in dormitories or residence halls. The recommendation also states that other college students under 25 years old can choose to receive the vaccination to reduce their risk for the disease.
Meningococcal meningitis is a rare but potentially fatal bacterial infection that strikes 1,400 to 3,000 Americans each year and is responsible for between 150 and 300 deaths. Adolescents and young adults account for nearly 30 percent of all cases of meningitis in the United States. In addition, about 125 cases occur on college campuses each year, and about 10 students will die as a result.
Because of lifestyle factors, such as crowded living situations, bar patronage, active or passive smoking, irregular sleep patterns and sharing personal items, freshman college students living in residence halls have a six times higher risk of meningococcal disease than college students overall.
Meningococcal infection is contagious, particularly in crowded conditions such as residence halls. Symptoms can include fever, stiff neck, rash, nausea and vomiting. The disease progresses very rapidly and can easily be misdiagnosed as the flu. Students should seek medical attention if any of these symptoms are present and occur unusually suddenly or severely.
The meningococcal vaccine (Menactra) covers four of the five common meningococcal serotypes (A, C, Y, W-135) but does not cover serotype B meningococcal disease, which is responsible for about 30 percent of cases in college students. The vaccine is considered safe, and adverse reactions are mild, i.e., redness and tenderness at injection site. Only a single dose is needed, and development of immunity post-vaccination requires seven to nine days. The need for or timing of a booster dose of Menactra has not yet been determined.
We encourage you to seriously consider receiving this vaccine from your personal health care provider before entering school. If you are unable to find a local source before school starts, you can obtain the vaccine from Redfern Health Center during Orientation or shortly after moving to campus. Contact Redfern Health Center at 864-656-2234 for more information. The vaccine will cost about $120.
To obtain additional information, visit the following website: www.cdc.gov