Meningococcal Disease Information for First-Time Enrolled College Students
Washington State Law requires that information on meningococcal disease must be provided to each enrolled first-time student. This information is being provided to you electronically, and you must acknowledge receipt of this information before you will be allowed to complete electronic enrollment or registration. Please read and understand your risk for meningococcal disease and how you can prevent it.
- What is meningococcal disease?
It is a serious illness caused by bacteria that can cause:
- Blood infections (septicemia), which causes bleeding into the skin or organs
- Swelling of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord (meningitis)
- Who is at risk?
College students have a higher risk of getting meningococcal disease because of common every day social interaction in a small space. This is especially true for students living in residence halls or group living arrangements.
- How does it spread?
Meningococcal disease requires close contact to spread. It is spread through saliva by coughing, kissing, or sharing anything by mouth with an infected person, such as eating utensils, lip balm, or toothbrushes.
- What are the symptoms?
Meningococcal meningitis and meningococcal septicemia are both very serious and can be deadly in a matter of hours.
- Sudden onset of fever
- Stiff neck
- Sensitivity to light
- Severe aches or pain
- Rapid breathing
- Cold chills; cold hands and feet
- In the later stages, a dark purple rash on upper and lower limbs
- What should I do if I have these symptoms?
Seek medical attention right away if you or another student develop symptoms of meningococcal disease. If untreated, meningococcal disease may lead to brain damage, disability, and death.
- How is it treated?
Meningococcal disease is treated with antibiotics, which are most effective when given immediately after symptoms begin. Anyone who has been in contact with a person with the disease should seek treatment and receive antibiotics within 24 hours.
- How is it prevented?
To prevent getting meningococcal disease, there are two different vaccinations available. Your doctor or pharmacist can recommend the appropriate vaccination. Vaccinations can prevent up to 80% of meningococcal disease cases in teens and young adults.
- Meningococcal ACWY vaccine is a routine recommendation for all children aged 11 to 12 years with a booster for teens aged 16 to 18 years.
- Meningococcal B vaccine may be given to teens and adults aged 16 to 23 who have rare health conditions or are at risk because of a meningococcal B disease outbreak.
In addition to vaccination, it is important to engage in healthy behaviors:
- Cover your mouth when you cough
- Wash your hands frequently
- Avoid sharing eating and drinking utensils
- Where can I find these vaccines?
Your healthcare provider is the best place to receive these recommended vaccines. You can also get them at pharmacies, community health clinics, or public health departments. Use the HealthMap Vaccine Finder at vaccinefinder.org to search for locations near you that offer immunizations.
You may choose to get the meningococcal vaccine at the CWU Student Health Services. Other vaccines are also offered at the clinic that include MMR, Td/Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), influenza, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, HPV. Schedule online or call the clinic at (509)963-1881 to make an appointment to get up to date on your vaccinations.
When receiving any vaccine, ask the provider to record the vaccine in the state or local registry, if available. This helps healthcare providers at future visits know what vaccines you have already received.
If you would like more information on Washington State’s Meningococcal Education Mandate, as well as other resources on meningococcal disease prevention, please visit Washington State Department of Health