Health Service

Meningococcal Vaccine

On June 6, 2001, the State of Connecticut passed Public Act No. 01-93, stating that beginning the school year 2002-2003 and each year thereafter, each public or private college or university in this state shall require that each student who resides in on-campus housing be vaccinated against meningitis as a condition of such residence.

Although meningococcal meningitis is not a common disease, the number of cases among teens and young adults has more than doubled since 1991. The disease strikes abut 3,000 Americans each year and claims abut 300 lives. Between 100-125 cases of meningitis occur on college campuses and as many
as 15 students will die from the disease. Recent information shows that college students, particularly freshmen living in residence halls, have an increased risk for contracting this disease.

Meningococcal meningitis is an infection of the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. It is a serious disease that can result in brain damage, hearing loss, learning disabilities or death. The bacterium that causes meningitis is spread to others by direct contact with respiratory secretions, as in kissing, coughing, sharing drinking glasses, utensils or cigarettes. It is not spread by casual contact or by breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been.

Early symptoms of bacterial meningitis are similar to the flu, but progress rapidly and may result in death within 24 hours. Fever, headache and stiff neck are the most common symptoms. Nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, confusion and lethargy, (sleepiness) may also occur. As the disease progresses, seizures may occur. Treatment must be started early to reduce the risk of complications and death.

A vaccine is now available that protects against meningococcal meningitis. The vaccine is generally safe and well tolerated and should be available through your health care provider.

Proof of a meningitis vaccination is necessary to reside in on-campus housing.