Each year, approximately 1,000 people contract meningococcal disease in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has found that among those who become infected, 1 in every 10 cases prove fatal and 2 out of every 10 cases will suffer from permanent disabilities, such as brain damage, loss of limbs, hearing loss and/or other serious impacts to the nervous system. Since the spring of 2013, meningitis B outbreaks have occurred on five major college campuses in the U.S. The meningitis B vaccine is critically important for college students who are more likely to contract the disease. Dorm living, shared bathrooms, crowded events, and sharing food and drinks are all catalysts for spreading the bacteria. Symptoms can often mimic the flu or a hangover but the consequences are much more severe. Any student with a stiff neck, fever, fatigue, or rash should go to Student Health Services as soon as they can.
With college students at high risk, preventing meningitis is a top priority at WashU. This fall, students at WashU are linking up with Generate Health’s “It’s More Than…” campaign – a regional effort to educate parents and students about the benefits of the meningitis B vaccination. ALPHA, a graduate student group from the Brown School focused on advocacy and learning for public health and undergraduate peer health educators (PHEs) focused on health promotion have teamed up to promote meningitis vaccination on campus. They want students to know that it is easy to obtain vaccinations needed while in college. Most importantly, most students have been vaccinated against several strains of meningitis, but may not have been vaccinated against meningitis B – a strain that accounts for 50 percent of all cases in persons 17 to 23 years of age in the U.S. Until recently, there was no vaccine to combat the B strain of meningitis, but that recently became available.
If you’d like to know more, stop by the DUC on November 20 and 21st to talk to ALPHA members and PHEs. Or talk to a provider at Student Health Services about getting this important vaccine today.
For more information on the “It’s More Than…” campaign, please visit: http://generatehealthstl.org/programs/immunization/
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