College students are at increased risk for contracting meningitis. In the fall of 2017, an outbreak of Meningitis B was declared in the Five College area, where Smith College is located. We have been encouraging our students to become vaccinated since November, 2017. Vaccination and practicing healthsmart behaviors can greatly reduce the risk of illness.
Effective Fall 2018, the college is requiring all entering students to complete BOTH Quadrivalent and MenB vaccines. Quadrivalent MenACWY or MCV4 vaccine (brand names Menactra and Menveo) protects against four types of meningitis. Merningitis B MenB (brand names Bexsero and Trumenba) only protects against Meningitis B.
Smith College insurance covers the vaccines at 100 percent.
For students with private insurance: We suggest you contact your insurance company about coverage of the Meningitis B vaccine. Most insurance companies will cover the vaccine because of the outbreak in our area. Copays, deductibles and network restrictions may apply. Vaccines are available at most retail pharmacies and some walk in clinics and primary care offices. You can find vaccine by using this vaccine finder tool.
- Most college students are not protected against all forms of meningitis.
- It tends to affect younger people (under 30).
- Residential college students in their 20s or younger are considered higher risk.
- Meningitis is spread through direct close contact with infected saliva (spit).
- If you are not kissing, sharing drinks, food, toothbrushes, makeup, smoking materials, or mouthpieces of musical instruments or other items, or having intimate contact with someone who is infected or sick, you are much less likely to become infected.
- Most people over age 26 are not considered high risk. The vaccines are generally not given to persons over the age of 26. If you are a a student over the age of 26, or staff or faculty member, please consult with your doctor about your level of risk.
What is the Difference Between Viral and Bacterial Meningitis?
Viral meningitis is the most common form of infectious meningitis. Viruses that cause viral meningitis are spread by direct contact with the infected saliva, nasal mucus, or feces of an infected person. Viral meningitis symptoms tend to be mild and resolve on their own without treatment after about a week. Bacterial meningitis, however, tends to be much more severe. Symptoms usually develop rapidly and dramatically, and require immediate medical intervention and treatment.
- Meningitis Resources from the Centers for Disease Control
- Meningitis B Action Project
- Video: Meningitis B in 60 Seconds
- Video: How Do Vaccines Work?
Prevent Getting Sick—Be HealthSmart
Practicing HealthSmart behaviors such as careful, frequent handwashing; covering your coughs and sneezes with your elbows; not sharing drinks, food, smoking materials, mouthpieces, lip balm and makeup; disinfecting commonly touched items; and maintaining a distance of about three–six feet from persons who appear ill (or avoiding close contact with others if you are ill) are the best modes of prevention against any form of meningitis, as well as most illnesses.