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Meningitis FAQ for Graduate Students

​​​​​​​​​Updated February 6, 2015


Q: What is the risk​​ to my family, friends and partners?

A: The CDC has stated that there is no evidence that family members and the community are at increased risk of getting meningococcal disease from casual contact with Providence College students, faculty or staff. Although transmission is from person-to-person, the bacteria are not highly contagious and require sharing respiratory and oral secretions to spread.​

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend that students take prophylaxis antibiotics based on concerns about potentially exposing family members or others outside of campus. Individuals who feel they have a special situation may wish to consult with their personal or family physician about their particular circumstances.


Q: S​hould I be concerned about traveling away from campus (i.e., during holiday breaks) a​nd possibly spreading the bacteria to others?

A: The CDC and state health officials do not recommend any travel restrictions for members of the College community.

Meningitis is generally transmitted through direct exchange of respiratory and throat secretions by close personal contact. Fortunately, none of the bacteria that cause meningitis are as contagious as the common cold or the flu, and they are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been.​

The best way to prevent the spread of illness is to pay increased attention to hygienic practices and avoid sharing items that come into contact with the mouth, including cups, eating utensils, smoking materials and other items.


Q: Can vi​si​​​tors stay in dorms or residence halls?

A: According to the CDC, overnight visits with undergraduates or graduate students in a dormitory should not on its own pose an increased risk to the visitor.  Visitors should be vigilant about not sharing cups, utensils, smoking materials, cosmetics, etc.


Q: Which gr​​aduate students are recommended to receive the vaccine?

A: The CDC recommends that graduate students living on campus receive the vaccine (in addition to all undergraduate students and members of the University community with certain medical conditions).​

In addition, graduate students who are in an intimate relationship with an undergraduate or a graduate student who lives in a dormitory or residence hall and who are under the age of 25 are recommended to receive the vaccine.


Q: Why did the CDC reco​mmend that only graduate students living on campus receive the vaccine?

A: This is because young adults, especially those who live in close quarters such as dormitories, are at increased risk of getting meningitis.


Q: I a​m ​a graduate student who does not fit the criteria for which CDC recommended vaccination. Can I still be vaccinated?

A: It is not necessary that you be vaccinated.  If you feel that you should be vaccinated, please contact the Student Health Center to explain your situation.


Q: How long ​c​an someone be a carrier after getting vaccinated?

A: (From the CDC): Since this vaccine is relatively new, we do not have enough data to know what the impact is on carriage. For meningococcal bacteria in general, we are not certain for each person how much time he or she can carry the bacteria.  We do know that carriage is not permanent and generally lasts weeks to months. The length of time may vary by person and with each specific strain of the bacteria. We do not have specific data on the duration of carriage, or what the maximum duration of carriage is, for all strains.


Q: Sho​​uld I ​take antibiotics?

A: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend that students take prophylaxis antibiotics based on concerns about potentially exposing family members or others outside of campus. There is no evidence that family members and the community are at increased risk of getting meningococcal disease from casual contact with students, faculty or staff at institutions experiencing outbreaks. Individuals who feel they have a special situation may wish to consult with their personal or family physician about their particular circumstances.


Q: Can I ​​be a carrier of the meningococcal bacteria if I have received one or two doses of the vaccine?

A: Yes. It is unlikely that the vaccine will stop carriage, but it does protect the individual who received the vaccine from developing symptoms of the disease. It is unknown whether the vaccine would prevent acquisition of carriage. If you are carrying the bacteria, you can transmit it to another person through close contact (exchange of saliva through kissing, sharing drinks, etc.).

For more information about meningococcal vaccination, including serogroup B meningococcal vaccines, see information from CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/mening/default.htm​).