What is it?
Meningococcal meningitis is a rare but potentially dangerous illness that mainly affects children and young adults. It is transmitted via respiratory and throat secretions.

What else should I know?
College students have a greater potential risk of outbreak than the general population due to a prevalence of risk factors that are often part of campus life — residence hall living, active and passive smoking, bar patronage and alcohol consumption (greater than 15 drinks per week).

How can I protect myself?
The meningococcal meningitis vaccine is effective against four of the five serogroups of meningitis. Pre-exposure vaccination greatly reduces a student’s risk for disease, and post-vaccination immunity is developed in approximately 10-14 days. Other ways that students can decrease their risks of contacting meningitis include behaviors to maximize the body’s immune system — a balanced diet, adequate sleep, not smoking, not sharing cigarettes or drinks with others and washing your hands after contact with oral secretions.

Is the vaccine available on campus?
The meningococcal meningitis vaccine is not currently available on campus.

Are there any side effects to the vaccine?
Adverse reactions to the meningococcal meningitis vaccine are mild and infrequent, consisting primarily of redness and pain at the injection site that may last one to two days. About 2 percent of patients may develop fever. As with any vaccine, vaccination may not protect 100 percent of all susceptible individuals.

Who should not receive the vaccine?
You should not receive the vaccine if:

  • you are pregnant or suspect you might be;
  • you are allergic to thimerosal, a preservative substance found in several vaccines;
  • you have an acute illness with fever greater than 101 degrees F;
  • you have had Guillain- Barré Syndrome; or
  • you are over 55 years old.

For more information on the meningitis vaccine, please visit

For more information call University Health Services at 985.493.2600 or visit the office on the first floor of Betsy Ayo Hall.

Revised August 8, 2016