Is MenB Vaccination Now Required for College Admission?
As the Fall 2018 semester gets underway, some U.S. colleges are offering students new vaccines that help prevent a rare, but life-threatening form of meningitis.
Meningococcal disease is caused by infection with bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis. These bacteria can infect the tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord and cause meningitis.
Academic institutions are taking a range of preventive approaches, from simply making the vaccines available at student health centers or requiring immunizations prior to attending classes.
Effective this year, New England College joined the ranks of colleges throughout the country making it mandatory that all incoming students be vaccinated for meningitis B, reported the Union Leader.
Another example is San Diego State University, which declared an ‘outbreak’ on September 28, 2018, and is now recommending all undergraduate students be immunized against meningitis B (MenB).
This action is because the onset of meningitis B may be very sudden, and 10-15 percent of people may die despite receiving antibiotic treatment.
People who had contact with those contacts considered “higher risk,” as well as those attending class, working with or even sharing a bathroom with an infected individual are not considered at risk and do not need antibiotics. Recommending antibiotics to an entire student body is not an effective strategy to stop a meningococcal disease outbreak.
Cipro is an antibiotic that can be used to help prevent meningococcal infection in someone who was recently closely exposed to a person with an active meningococcal infection. It does not provide protection from future exposures. Cipro does not provide protection from future exposures.
Treating many people unnecessarily with antibiotics carries risks, possibly causing more harm than good, says SDSU officials.
The meningitis vaccine is used to provide long-term protection into the future.
A nationwide, comprehensive list of state vaccination requirements for meningitis B is maintained by The Immunization Action Coalition (IAC) website. The IAC lists the various meningococcal ACWY mandates for both colleges and universities.
The Coalition also facilitates communication about the safety, efficacy, and use of vaccines within the broad immunization community of patients, parents, healthcare organizations, and government health agencies.
Vaccination is the best defense against meningococcal meningitis, yet according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 50 percent of U.S. teens have not yet received the recommended 2nd dose of meningococcal meningitis vaccine.
Older meningitis vaccines that were given to adolescents over the past decade don't protect patients from the MenB strains. Those older vaccines, which include Menactra, and Menveo protect against 4 other serogroups.
Until 2014, there were no meningitis B vaccines approved in the USA.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Trumenba and Bexsero for use in adolescents and young adults. For the best protection, more than 1 dose of a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine is needed.
The 2 MenB vaccines, Trumenba and Bexsero, protect against a category of strains of Neisseria meningitidis known as serogroup B.
And, the same type of vaccine must be used for all doses, says the FDA.
Additionally, on September 17, 2018, the National Meningitis Association (NMA) announced the launch of a new educational initiative in collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur about the importance of the recommended 2nd dose of the meningococcal meningitis vaccine (MenACWY) for adolescents at age 16.
Students, parents, and caregivers can learn more about meningococcal disease and vaccines by visiting the FDA meningococcal and Immunize.org websites:
Most pharmacies in the USA offer vaccination services.
Vaccine prices vary and can be researched at this CDC site. To research vaccine discounts, please visit this page.
Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects, says the CDC. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the FDA or CDC.