Meningitis and Prevention
- Three UW-Madison students are recovering from meningococcal disease
- 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)
- UHS recommends that all undergraduate students through age 25 be vaccinated against meningococcal disease serogroup B
- The vaccine is a series of two doses. Receiving a second dose is critical to maintaining long-term immunity.
- Get your second dose over the semester break so you can be fully immunized.
- Schedule your appointment with your home health care provider. Most health insurance plans will cover the second dose.
- Health care providers across the country stock and provide this vaccine. Your home health care provider can contact UHS with questions.
- Check your insurance to find out if you can get the second dose at a local pharmacy.
- If you do not have health insurance or access to vaccine, a limited supply is available through UHS. Please contact UHS to set up an appointment.
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 but not against serogroup B. Serogroup B vaccine has only recently become available and is not routinely recommended.
I am not a student, should I get the vaccine?
UW-Madison recommends that all undergraduate students through age 25 be vaccinated against meningococcal disease serogroup B. Persons with conditions that compromise their immunity, especially persons who have complement component deficiencies are also encouraged to get the vaccine. Faculty and staff can check with their personal health care provider.
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 do I handle the second dose if I got my first dose at home?
It’s a good idea to get documentation of any immunizations you have been given for your personal health records.
I'm due to receive my second dose, where should I go?
The end of the semester is a busy and stressful time and we encourage you to get vaccinated over winter break. This is a good window to get vaccinated before you return to campus.
Most health insurance plans will cover a second dose. Your home health care provider can contact UHS with questions. Check your insurance to determine if you're able to get the your second dose at a local pharmacy.
UHS and the Wisconsin Division of Public Health have been in close communication with Wisconsin and Minnesota health care providers about the need to accommodate UW-Madison students during winter break. Many health care providers across the country stock and provide this vaccine. Health care providers can contact UHS with questions.
Do I need to receive my second dose exactly 30 days after my first dose?
No, 30 days is a minimum length of time. You want to receive the next dose sometime after the 30-day mark.
I don't have insurance. What are my options?
I'm enrolled in the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP). Where can I get the second dose?
Students with SHIP can make appointments in MyUHS.
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.
10/14/16 - UW-Madison recommends meningitis B vaccination for undergraduates; free immunizations available beginning Oct. 20
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)