Meningococcal disease is a serious disease, caused by a bacteria.
Meningococcal disease is a contagious, but a largely preventable, infection of the spinal cord fluid and the fluid that surrounds the brain. Meningococcal disease can also cause blood infections.
About 2,600 people get meningococcal disease each year in the United States; 10 to 15 percent of these people die, in spite of treatment with antibiotics. Of those who live, another 10 percent lose their arms or legs, become deaf, have problems with their nervous system, become mentally retarded, or suffer seizures or strokes.
Anyone can get meningococcal disease, but it is most common in infants less than one year of age and in people with certain medical conditions.
Scientific evidence suggests that college students living in residence hall facilities are at a modestly increased risk of contracting meningococcal disease.
Immunization against meningococcal disease decreases the risk of contracting the disease. Meningococcal vaccine can prevent four types of meningococcal disease; these include two of the three most common in the United States. Meningococcal vaccine cannot prevent all types of the disease, but it does help to protect many people who might become sick if they do not get the vaccine.
A vaccine, like any medicine, is capable of causing serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions.The risk of the meningococcal vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small. Getting a meningococcal vaccine is much safer than getting the disease.
More information can be obtained from the Vaccine Information Statement available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/index.html. Students and their parents should discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination with their health care providers.