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Meningitis FAQ for Undergraduate Students

​​​​​​​​Updated February 6, 2015

Q: If I ​​receive one or two doses of the vaccine, can I still carry the bacteria and transmit it to someone else?
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.).


Q: Is ​​my sib​ling, parent, kissing partner or child eligible for the vaccine?

A: The FDA has approved two meningitis B vaccines - Trumenba by Pfizer and Bexsero by Novartis.

Private physicians and clinics may have one or both of the vaccines; however, health officials have not yet made recommendations as to whom should receive the vaccine, so many physicians and clinics may not have it readily available.  The vaccine is licensed for people ages ten through twenty-five.

The CDC recommended that vaccines be given to all undergraduate students, graduate students living on campus and members of the College community without a spleen or who are immunocompromised.

These groups are recommended to receive the vaccine because young adults and people with certain medical conditions are at increased risk of getting meningococcal disease, especially those who live in close quarters, such as dormitories.

Meningitis is generally is 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 to individuals outside the College community 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: Wha​​t 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: Should I be​​ concerned about traveling away from campus (i.e., during holiday breaks) and 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: How ​lon​​g can 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: Should​ 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 visi​​tors to campus stay in dorms or residence halls?

A: According to the CDC, overnight visits with undergraduates 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: I was considered a close contact of a student who was diagnosed with meningococ​​cal disease and received a dose of Cipro.  Does that provide enough​ protection that I do not need the vaccine?

A: The antibiotic was protective at the time it was taken, but that protection does not last.  The CDC still recommends that you receive the vaccine for protection against meningitis type B.

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