College life has unique risk factors for vaccine-preventable diseases: close contact in dorms, classrooms, sporting events, public transportation, parties, and other social interactions make these diseases easy to spread.
An otherwise healthy student can quickly become ill with a serious infection. Vaccination is your best shot (pun intended!) at avoiding certain diseases and related complications.
There are a number of vaccines that you should talk to your primary care provider about to make sure you are protected while on campus. Influenza (annually), Meningococcal Disease (MenACWY and MenB), MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, HPV (human papillomavirus), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), and pneumococcal (PCV13 and PPSV23).
In this article, we want to highlight more about MenB as there has been a change in the vaccine and this is something college students are at particular risk for. So, let’s talk about Men B – Meningococcal Disease.
Meningococcal disease is a serious illness caused by bacteria that can infect the areas around the brain and spinal cord or the bloodstream. Infection can lead to brain damage, lasting disability, or rapid death.
Meningococcal disease is rare but potentially fatal. About one in ten people who get Meningococcal disease will die from it even if treated. After infancy, older teens and young adults have the highest rate of Meningococcal disease.
Community settings are a risk factor: college freshman living in dorms are particularly at risk of contracting Meningococcal.
The bacteria are spread from person to person through close contact with respiratory secretions or saliva (for example, coughing or kissing).
Signs and symptoms of Meningococcal Disease may include sudden onset of high fever, headache, or stiff neck. It can start with symptoms similar to the flu, and will often also cause nausea, rash, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, and confusion. Early diagnosis and treatment is very important because Meningococcal Disease can be fatal within hours or days of getting sick.
Getting vaccinated is your first line of defense against Meningococcal Disease. Check with the Campus Health Center or your primary care provider about which meningococcal vaccines you need. You can also protect yourself by not sharing items that have touched someone else’s mouth, such as cups, eating utensils, bottles, lip balm, and cigarettes.
Content contributed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Where to go for more information:
- Campus Health Center: www.health.wayne.edu
- Your Primary Care Provider
- Centers for Disease Control: www.cdc.gov/vaccines
MDHHS, Division of Immunization: www.michigan.gov/immunize