Did you know that vaccination against meningococcal B infection is not part of your routine childhood vaccination schedule?
As a new university student, you could be at increased risk. Talk to your heathcare provider about the meningococcal B vaccine.
What is meningococcal disease?
Invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) is extremely rare and not spread easily, but it can be life-threatening and there are factors that put people at higher risk. There are a few different types of meningococcal disease, such as B type. Most of the more frequent types, such as A, C, Y and W, are covered in routine childhood immunization schedules.
THE IMPACT OF INVASIVE MENINGOCOCCAL DISEASE (IMD)
- IMD is caused by bacteria (Neisseria meningitidis) that can cause meningitis or bloodstream infections.
- IMD starts quickly and may progress within 24 to 48 hours to serious, possibly life-threatening infections.
- Even with early diagnosis, around 1 in 10 people who get IMD die from the infection.
- Of those who recover, up to 1 in 3 patients experience serious complications, including hearing loss, neurologic disabilities, and amputations.
- IMD can be difficult to diagnose because the signs and symptoms are similar to other illnesses such as a bad cold or flu. High fever, severe headache and a red or purple rash can be signs of IMD.
- Some people can carry the bacteria without developing the disease (a carrier) or even knowing they are a carrier. It’s estimated that up to 25% of older adolescents may be carriers. This is why IMD can sometimes be spread between people.
How does it spread?
The bacteria that cause meningococcal disease does not spread through the air. This disease is not contracted by sitting next to someone, taking a class with someone, or walking in the halls with someone who is sick with the illness. It is also not spread through air circulation systems.
The bacteria that can cause meningococcal disease is spread by saliva or spit. Examples include but are not limited to:
- Kissing or close physical contact
- Sharing eating utensils, drinking glasses, water bottles, toothbrushes, and lipstick
- Sharing vapes and cigarettes
Post-secondary students living on-campus for the first time are at increased risk of a meningococcal infection. It is important for these students to check if they have been vaccinated against all types of meningococcal disease including B, and if not, consider getting vaccinated before heading off to university.
Protecting yourself from meningococcal B infection
The best way to protect yourself from IMD is to receive meningococcal vaccines including the meningococcal B vaccine. Meningococcal B vaccine requires two doses. One dose is not enough to protect you fully from meningococcal disease (type B). People should receive their second dose at least 4 weeks after their first dose.