Meningitis is a bacterial infection spread from person to person through respiratory and oral secretions such as coughing, kissing or sharing utensils. Though meningitis doesn't spread as easily as the common cold of flu, the disease can have devastating impacts on a person’s health. The meningitis vaccine is recommended to protect against most types of meningococcal disease.
Who Should Get the Meningitis Vaccine?
Adolescents ages 16-21 have the highest rates of meningococcal infection in the United States. According to the CDC, children should receive their first dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4) at age 11 with a follow-up booster given at age 16. However, adolescents 16 years of age and older can still receive the vaccine if they’re behind on the recommended schedule.
Both the Texas and Illinois state legislatures (among many others) have passed laws requiring all students to be vaccinated against meningococcal infection before starting college. Students entering college must show proof of vaccination within the past five years.
See a state-by-state breakdown of meningitis vaccination requirements on this chart.
Important Facts about Meningococcal Disease and the Meningitis Vaccine
- Studies have shown that college students living in dormitories are at an increased risk of meningococcal disease compared to their peers. Others who face a high risk of infection include infants, people who travel internationally, people with spleen disorders and people with certain blood diseases.
- Meningococcal disease is extremely serious. About 9-12% cases of bacterial meningitis lead to death. Many people with the disease can suffer serious long-term effects, such as permanent hearing loss, limb loss or brain damage.
- Bacterial meningitis is different than viral meningitis. Though viral meningitis is more common and has no specific treatment, it is usually not as serious as bacterial meningitis.
- There are two kinds of meningitis vaccine in the United States: meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4) and meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (MPSV4). Both can help prevent four types of meningococcal disease.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Meningococcal Infection
- High fever
- Neck stiffness
- Seizures (rarely)
If you think you are showing signs of meningococcal infection, consult a physician for prompt diagnosis and treatment. MedSpring offers the meningitis vaccine from 9am-9pm, 7 days a week. Walk-ins are welcome, or call ahead to make an appointment.
Find a MedSpring location near you.