Here at the University of Cincinnati, we care about our students’ health and a smart choice to make is to get a Meningitis B vaccination. This web page will provide you with general information about meningitis B and the vaccine. For specific information regarding your personal health and the meningitis vaccine, please call UHS at 513-556-2564 and ask to speak to a nurse. You are welcome to come by either UHS location to get your meningitis vaccine and should feel free to call us to make an appointment if that is most convenient for you.
Meningococcal Disease: What You Need to Know
- The risk of meningococcal disease is higher in young adults and those living in group settings such as residence halls.
- There have been recent outbreaks of serogroup B meningococcal disease at universities and colleges across the country, which have resulted in several deaths. There have been sporadic cases of the disease in the local Cincinnati community.
- Meningococcal disease is typically spread by exchange of respiratory and throat secretions. This is most commonly done by kissing or sharing eating utensils and drinking glasses.
- Meningococcal meningitis causes a sudden onset of fever, headache and stiff neck. You also might have nausea, vomiting, an increased sensitivity to light, and altered mental state or confusion.
- Bexsero® is a newly available vaccine to help protect against serogroup B meningococcal disease.
- The MenB vaccine is not the same vaccine you may have received previously. That one protects against other strains of meningococcal disease.
Serogroup B Meningococcal Disease and Vaccines There are several types of meningococcal disease caused by different serogroups (“strains”) of the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria. One type is serogroup B meningococcal disease. www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/index.html
Vaccines Are Now Available to Help Prevent Serogroup B Meningococcal Disease
Two new serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) vaccines (Bexsero® and Trumenba®) were recently licensed. They are different from the meningococcal vaccine you may have already received. That prior vaccine does not offer protection against serogroup B meningococcal disease.
In June 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended that a MenB vaccine may be administered to adolescents and young adults 16 through 23 years old to help protect against most serogroup B meningococcal disease.
Outbreaks of Serogroup B Meningococcal Disease Occur on College Campuses
Several recent outbreaks of serogroup B meningococcal disease have occurred on college campuses across the United States. In 2013, outbreaks at two universities in New Jersey and California had a combined 13 cases and one associated death. In 2015, outbreaks at two universities in Oregon and Rhode Island saw a combined nine cases and one death. Those schools now all recommended MenB vaccination for their students.
UC’s University Health Services (UHS) Strongly Recommends MenB Vaccine for Students
With these recent outbreaks in mind, UC’s University Health Services (student health center) has learned that a few cases of serogroup B meningitis have hit the local community. Therefore, UC’s UHS strongly recommends all students aged 25 and under receive the MenB vaccine. Bexsero®, the 2-dose MenB vaccine, is currently available at our student health center and will be offered at additional convenient locations at the beginning of the semester. Getting both shots is important to provide the best protection against this serious disease.
Following are frequently asked questions about the new MenB vaccine:
1. Why do I need the MenB vaccine?
Meningococcal disease is a very serious, potentially fatal, illness. The bacteria that cause meningococcal disease require lengthy or very close, person-to-person contact in order to spread. You must be in close contact (e.g., by living in close quarters, kissing) with the person’s saliva (spit) or other respiratory secretions in order for the bacteria to spread. Vaccination can help keep you safe and healthy.
2. What could happen if I get meningococcal disease?
Meningococcal disease can cause meningitis or bacteremia/septicemia (infection of the bloodstream). Common symptoms of meningococcal meningitis include sudden onset of fever, headache and stiff neck. Symptoms of meningococcal septicemia may include fever, fatigue, vomiting, cold hands and feet, cold chills, severe aches or pains, rapid breathing, diarrhea and a dark purple rash.
Symptoms can develop quickly or over several days. Even with antibiotic treatment, meningococcal disease can be fatal in about 10 to 15 percent of cases. Of those who survive, about 11 to 19 percent have long-term complications such as permanent hearing loss, loss of limb or brain damage.
3. Is the MenB vaccine the same as the general meningitis vaccine?
No. The MenB vaccine can only help prevent serogroup B meningococcal disease. The other meningococcal vaccine, known as meningococcal conjugate vaccine, covers serogroups A, C, W and Y. These are different strains than serogroup B. The serogroup B (MenB) vaccine is new and recently approved. Both types of meningococcal vaccines are important for college students.
4. Where can I get the MenB vaccine?
University Health Services’ Lindner Athletic Center and Holmes locations have the vaccine. Go to our UHS Locations and Hours page for office hours.
5. What do I need to bring with me to get the MenB vaccination?
You must bring your UC ID card and your health insurance card.
6. How long will it take to get the MenB vaccination?
It will only take a few minutes to get the vaccination. However, before you can get the vaccination you will need to fill out some paperwork that includes your name, address, contact information and insurance information. You will also receive the Meningococcal Group B VIS (Vaccine Information Statement). After getting the vaccine, you will need to stay for 15 minutes to make sure you are okay.
Meningococcal Group B VIS (PDF)
7. How much does the vaccine cost?
The Bexsero® vaccine costs $170 per shot and two shots are needed, one to six months apart, for maximum protection. Students with the university-offered Student Health Insurance Plan will pay nothing for the vaccine – it is covered. Students with private health insurance should check with their insurance carrier to see if the vaccine is covered.
8. What if I don’t know if my insurance plan covers the MenB vaccine?
You do not have to pay at the time of your vaccination. UC Health will contact your insurance provider for payment. While we believe that most insurance companies will (and should) cover the cost, it is possible that your insurer many not. If that happens, we will contact you to arrange payment.
9. Are there potential side effects from the vaccine?
As with all vaccines, there could be some side effects. The most common include pain at the injection site, painful muscles and joints, nausea, a general feeling of being unwell and a headache. You should contact UHS immediately if any of these become serious or if you notice other side effects. Among young adults, there is also a risk of fainting after getting this, or any, vaccine. We will ask you to stay for 15 minutes after getting the vaccine to ensure that a severe reaction or fainting does not occur.
10. Can I get the MenB vaccine anywhere else?
You might be able to get a MenB vaccine from your home doctor but, as it is a new vaccine, many offices do not carry it. It is most readily available from campus health services, such as UC’s University Health Services. If you do get a MenB vaccine somewhere else, it is important to know which vaccine you received. Both MenB vaccines require more than one dose for maximum protection and the same vaccine must be used for all of the doses.
11. What else can I do to avoid getting sick?
For meningococcal disease, we recommend that you:
- Know the symptoms of meningococcal disease.
- Avoid activities – like smoking or sharing respiratory secretions (such as by saliva, kissing or close coughing) that may increase your risk of illness.
- Seek medical attention immediately if you have any symptoms of meningitis or a bloodstream infection.
With flu season around the corner, remember to cover your mouth with your elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
For additional information on meningococcal disease and the MenB vaccine, please visit:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Meningitis Association