Meningitis and Prevention
- Meningitis is rare, often comes on suddenly, and can progress rapidly
- Most students are protected against serogroups ACYW, but few are vaccinated against serogroup B
- Do not share anything that comes into contact with the mouth (drinking glasses, eating utensils, smoking materials, cosmetics, or lip balm)
- The vaccine is a series of two doses. Receiving a second dose is critical to maintaining long-term immunity
- Viral meningitis spreads similarly to bacterial meningitis, and can lead to similar symptoms, including fever, stiff neck, headache, and vomiting
- The most common forms of the virus are not preventable with a vaccine
- The virus is usually less severe than bacterial meningitis, with symptoms lasting around 7 to 10 days
- This form of meningitis is more common during summer and fall months
- Most patients fully recover over time.
What is meningitis?
Meninigitis—inflammation of the lining surrounding the brain and spinal cord—can be caused by both bacteria and viruses. A serious form is caused by the meningococcal bacteria. Meningococcal bacteria are spread through close contact with an infected person’s oral or nasal secretions, such as by sharing cups. It’s very rare, often comes on suddenly, and can progress rapidly. Meningococcal disease is typically treated with antibiotics.
I already got meningitis shots from my doctor at home as a teenager. Do I still need to get a meningitis B vaccination?
Possibly. Most students are immunized against serogroup ACYW between the ages of 10 and 16, but not against serogroup B. Serogroup B vaccine has only recently become available and is not routinely recommended.
Note: Military recruits and persons with persistent complement component deficiency or functional or anatomic asplenia should receive a 2-dose primary series for serogroup ACYW administered 2 months apart and a booster dose every 5 years.
I am a graduate or professional student, faculty, or staff member at UW-Madison. Should I get the vaccine?
These groups are not considered at increased risk for meningococcal disease and therefore are not recommended for vaccination with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine due to the occurrence of cases on the UW-Madison campus.
If I already got one dose at home of the meningitis B vaccine (either Bexsero or Trumenba), can I get the remaining dose(s) at UHS?
Yes, UHS offers both vaccines to complete your vaccine series. The two vaccine products cannot be interchanged. It is important that we receive your prior records so that we can verify the proper vaccine and dosage timing. Please either bring in your immunization records when you come for the shot, or send complete the Immunization and Health History Form in MyUHS. The Wisconsin Immunization Registry contains records for children and adults who were vaccinated in state.
How can I update my immunization record in MyUHS?
- Visit MyUHS and log on using your NetID and password.
- Select "Messages" from the sidebar and then select "New Message."
- From the list of options, select "I am a UW Student or Domestic Partner."
- Select "I want to update my IMMUNIZATION RECORD."
- Compose your message and select "Send" when ready.
How will I feel after I get the vaccine?
You may experience one or more of the following after your vaccination (see below). Take Tylenol and contact UHS if any of these side effects persist for more than two days.
- redness or soreness at the injection site
- slight fatigue
- light headedness
- mild joint pain
- low-grade fever
Where can I get additional information?
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Know the symptoms
- sudden onset of fever
- stiff neck
- photophobia (increased sensitivity to light)
- an altered mental state (confusion)
Limit your risk
In addition to vaccination, help stop the spread by:
- Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
- Using the nearest waste receptacle to dispose of used tissue
- Performing hand hygiene (hand washing with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub)