All Campus Email: Meningitis B Vaccination

We hope everyone made it through finals alright (if you still need a little boost, check out our Procrastination Destination)! In a continuation of this semester’s trend of less-common illnesses showing up at/near Wesleyan, we received another all-campus email from the health center last week, this time about Meningitis B.

One student at Central Connecticut State University contracted the rare bacterial strain, which prompted this press release from the Connecticut Department of Health. While the risk is low, Dr. Tom McLarney, Medical Director at Davison Health Centerrecommends students contact their primary care physicians over winter break to discuss possibly getting vaccinated against this strain (the Meningitis B vaccine is not one of the required immunizations at Wesleyan or most college campuses).

Read on for the full email that Dr. McLarney sent earlier this week:

Dear students,

Many of you have probably read some of the local newspapers and learned of a single case of Meningitis B diagnosed on a student attending Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.

First and foremost, this does not increase the risk of this uncommon illness on the Wesleyan campus.  The State of Connecticut Department of Public Health has already contacted any close contacts of the student and treated them with the appropriated preventative medications.

This does give me an opportunity to use this case as a ‘’teachable moment’’ to update you all on Meningitis B.

Simply stated Meningitis means ‘’inflammation of the meninges’’ which are the inner lining of the spinal canal

Meningitis can be caused by viruses and bacteria.  Fortunately it is not a common infections as our brain and spinal cord have a wonderful anatomic defense called the Blood Brain Barrier.

Meningitis caused by bacteria can be devastating resulting in many bad outcomes including death.

The symptoms include fever, severe headache, a stiff neck and rash.

There is a certain bacteria, Meningococcus, which can cause a pretty virulent case of meningitis.

All incoming freshman are required to be vaccinated against the strains A,C, W and Y. (unless the vaccine is contraindicated)

Several years ago, there had been sporadic cases of meningitis caused by a B strain.  For the past several years, there are 2 vaccines which are available to protect one against Meningitis B.  This vaccine is not a required vaccine for most college campuses but should be considered and discussed with one’s primary care provider or providers here at Davison Health Center.

Vaccines (and handwashing) are the best ways to prevent the spread of infectious disease.

There are 2 Meningitis B vaccines (both injectable)

  1. Bexsero; 2 doses a month apart.
  2. Trumenba; 2 doses 6 months apart (3 doses are needed for certain patients with underlying medical conditions)

These vaccines are not interchangeable; whichever one you start with, you finish with.

We do not stock this vaccine at Davison Health Center but most if not all pharmacies either stock these or can get them within 24-48 hours. The cost will be covered by the Wesleyan school insurance (Gallagher) and most other insurances cover these vaccines, however it is always prudent to check with your vendor.

Winter break may be a great time to contact your primary care provider and consider getting this immunization.

Lastly, I want to wish you all a restful and restorative winter break.  I am so impressesed with all of you; your hard work, dedication, service to the school and community!

Please call if you have any questions.

Tom McLarney MD
Medical Director
Davison Health Center