Get Vaccinated

New students should get the vaccine before arriving on campus in the fall.

The vaccine is available from your family health care provider and is also available at UHS for a fee.

Students can call (608) 265-5600 to schedule an appointment.

Meningitis

  1. Meningococcal meningitis is a rare, but sometimes deadly disease that strikes adolescents and young adults.
  2. Vaccination is the best method of prevention and can prevent most cases of disease. Healthy habits such as not smoking and not sharing oral or respiratory secretions (such as by kissing, close coughing, and sharing drinking and eating utensils) can also help.
  3. The disease can cause an individual to become very ill, very quickly. The most common symptoms include: high fever (>101°F) accompanied by severe headache, neck stiffness, and confusion. Vomiting or rashes may also occur.

    Anyone with these symptoms should contact a health care provider or go to an emergency room immediately. If not treated immediately, the disease can progress rapidly and can lead to shock and death within a few hours.


For students who live in a residence hall

To comply withWisconsin law [SS 36.25(46)], students who live in a residence hall must report whether or not they have received vaccinations against meningococcal disease and hepatitis B. You can fulfill this requirement by completing your online Immunization and Health History Form in MyUHS.

Common questions about meningitis

What is meningococcal disease?

Meningococcal disease is a potentially life-threatening bacterial infection caused by Neisseriameningitidis, a common bacterium. Sometimes these bacteria invade the body to infect the lining of the brain (causing meningitis) or the bloodstream (meningococcemia).

This invasive disease is sometimes fatal unless recognized and treated promptly. Brain damage, hearing loss, loss of limbs, or kidney failure can also occur. Meningococcal disease is relatively rare, occurring at a rate of less than 1 in 100,000 people in the United States.

Who is at risk for meningococcal disease?

Everyone is potentially at risk, but college freshmen living in dormitories have an increased risk of developing meningococcal disease compared with other college students. For this reason, it is important for students to become familiar with meningococcal disease and get vaccinated against it before they come to college.

How do people get infected with meningococcal bacteria?

Meningococcal bacteria are spread from person to person by direct contact with an infected person’s oral or nasal secretions.

While the bacteria may be spread through close and direct contact with an infected person’s saliva, such as by sharing cups or eating utensils, this disease is not spread through the air, in food or water, or by casual contact in bathrooms, classrooms, restaurants, bars, or other social settings.

Persons who have had recent intimate or direct exposure to someone with meningococcal disease may be at increased risk for contracting or spreading meningococcal disease and should receive preventative medication. Exposure is defined as kissing, sharing eating or drinking utensils, or sharing cigarettes with a person who has recently developed meningococcal disease.

What are the symptoms of meningococcal disease?

Meningococcal disease can cause an individual to become very ill, very quickly. Symptoms may include:

  • high fever (>101°F) accompanied by severe headache
  • neck stiffness
  • confusion
  • sensitivity to light
  • vomiting or rashes may also occur

Anyone with these symptoms should contact a health care provider or go to an emergency room immediately. If not treated immediately, the disease can progress rapidly and can lead to shock and death within a few hours.

What is the treatment for meningococcal disease exposure?

People who have been exposed (as defined above) to oral or nasal secretions of a person with meningococcal disease may need to take antibiotics to prevent spread of the infection. The purpose of the antibiotics is to eliminate the meningococcal bacteria from the throat (carrier state). People who have not had direct exposure to oral or nasal secretions do not need to be treated.

If you believe you have had direct and recent meningococcal disease exposure, you should call UHS at (608) 265-5600.

How can meningococcal disease be prevented?

A vaccine is available that offers protection against some, but not all, strains of the bacteria. Immunization will reduce the overall risk of developing invasive meningococcal disease by about 65%.

Who should get vaccinated?

Meningococcal vaccine is recommended for all adolescents 11 through 18 years of age. It is also recommended for first-year college students living in a residence hall, if they have not been previously immunized.Other college students age 21 and under who want to reduce their risk of meningococcal disease may also get the vaccine.

New recommendations about booster doses were issued in 2010. If you received meningococcal vaccine before age 16, you should get a booster dose before you start college. UHS recommends that all current students age 21 and under get a booster dose of meningococcal vaccine if their first dose was given before age 16. If vaccine was given at age 16 or later, no booster is required.

In addition,meningococcal vaccine is recommended for persons traveling to countries where meningococcal disease is more common. Persons who have had their spleen removed or who have complement deficiency (an immune disorder) should get booster doses of the vaccine every five years.

What are the benefits and limitations of the vaccine?

The current meningococcal vaccine is about 90% effective in preventing meningococcal disease caused by four common strains of the bacteria. Unfortunately, about 30% of cases in college students are caused by a strain (serogroup B) that is not included in any vaccine. This vaccine does not provide any protection against other types of bacterial or viral meningitis. Immunized students must be aware that they can still develop meningococcal disease, as the vaccine provides only partial protection.