Ready for the semester? Get schooled on MenB among college students

Recent CDC data show that only 17.2 percent of 17-year-olds have received a vaccine that helps protect against meningitis B1

Philadelphia, PA, August 26, 2019 – With the fall semester upon us, it’s often a busy time where you find yourself shopping and preparing for the school year. In the midst of back-to-school planning, don’t overlook health care. Nicolis Williams started his first semester at college ready to take on the world, but because of meningitis, he never got that chance.

While uncommon, meningococcal disease, also known as meningitis, continues to appear on college campuses across the United States. These cases and outbreaks are unpredictable, and the outcomes can be devastating for impacted communities and organizations.2

Early symptoms of meningitis can be mild at first, but the disease can progress quickly and become life threatening, sometimes within 24 hours.3 The good news is that you can help protect yourself against meningitis through vaccination, though vaccination may not protect all recipients.

There are two different types of vaccines available to help protect against the five-vaccine preventable groups of meningitis – A, C, W, Y, and B.4

When you were younger, you may have received a meningitis ACWY vaccine, but you may not have gotten a meningitis B vaccine. As of 2019, only 17.2 percent of 17-year-olds have received a meningitis B vaccine, which wasn’t available until late 2014.1,5

From 2011 through March 2019, meningitis B caused all US college meningococcal outbreaks, involving 13 campuses, 50 cases, and two deaths among an at-risk population of approximately 253,000 students.6 A number of colleges and universities have taken a stand against the disease, recommending or requiring that incoming students get vaccinated before the school year.7

The best way to find out if you’ve received both types of meningitis vaccines is by talking to your doctor. Before you head back to school, take five minutes to learn more about meningitis and how you can help protect yourself.

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Christie Gilmore


1CDC. National, Regional, State, and Selected Local Area Vaccination Coverage Among Adolescents Aged 13–17 Years — United States, 2018. MMWR. 2019; 68(33):718-723.
2CDC. Meningococcal Outbreaks. Available at:
3CDC. Manual for the Surveillance of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases: Chapter 8: Meningococcal Disease.
Available at: Accessed June 2019.
4CDC. Meningococcal ACWY VIS. Available at:
5CDC. Meningococcal Vaccine Safety. Available at:
6Marshall GS, Dempsey AF, Srivastava A, Isturiz RE. US College Students Are at Increased Risk for Serogroup B Meningococcal Disease. JPIDS. 2019. piz024,
7Meningitis B Action Project. Meningitis B Cases and Mandates Tracker. Available at: