About Meningococcal Disease and Meningitis B

 

What is meningococcal disease?

Meningococcal disease is one of the most common types of bacterial meningitis. It is a life-threatening bacterial infection that can affect the lining of the brain and spinal cord, or it can cause an infection in the bloodstream – or both.

What causes meningococcal disease?

It is mainly caused by 5 types of meningococcal bacteria: ABCWY.

It is easy to spread from person to person. For example, it can spread by sharing anything that comes in contact with saliva, being in close quarters, being sneezed or coughed upon and kissing.

Who is at risk?

It is more common than you think. Meningococcal disease affects all ages, and it can occur anywhere. It is more common among those 16-23.

A recent study found that MenB is 5+ times more common in college students versus non-college students.

What happens if you get it?

It can attack without warning, and early symptoms can often be mistaken for the flu.

It can kill in a matter of hours, or cause permanent complications, including brain damage, hearing loss, learning disabilities or limb amputations


About the MenB Vaccine

 

How can you help prevent meningococcal disease?

It takes TWO TYPES of meningitis vaccines to be fully immunized against meningococcal disease: MenACWY and MenB.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states:

MenACWY: All 11 to 12 year olds should get a single dose of a MenACWY vaccine, and a booster dose at age 16.

MenB: Teens and young adults (16 through 23 year olds) may also get a MenB vaccine, preferably at 16 through 18 years old.

What is the problem?

While most have received the MenACWY vaccine, few have received the MenB vaccine. However, if a person has not received both vaccines, they are not fully immunized against meningococcal disease.

Why?

While both the MenACWY and MenB vaccines are recommended by the CDC, the MenB vaccine has a different level of recommendation. The CDC states that all 11 to 12 year olds SHOULD receive the MenACWY vaccine and 16-23 year olds (preferably 16-18) MAY receive the MenB vaccine.

As a result, while many schools and colleges require the MenACWY vaccine, the decision to vaccinate against MenB is usually made at the individual level with healthcare providers.

However, a recent study found that many doctors are not talking to their patients about the MenB vaccine.

As a result:

  • Less than 10% of 16-18 year olds have received at least one dose of the MenB vaccine.

  • Only 7% of college students are estimated to have received the MenB vaccine.

  • More than 80% of parents have not heard of the MenB vaccine.


What Can You Do About it?

 

What can you do about it?

Ask your healthcare professional today if you or your child has received both vaccines: the MenACWY and the MenB vaccine, and ask your friends and family to do the same.

Parents and children have the right to know about both vaccines so they can make an informed decision about vaccination.

Where can I get more information or get involved?

Visit MeningitisBActionProject.org for more information.

Who is the Meningitis B Action Project?

The Meningitis B Action Project is a joint initiative by two mothers who each lost their young, healthy daughters too soon to a now vaccine-preventable disease, Meningitis B. The project aims to arm young adults and their parents with information to proactively talk to their healthcare professional about MenB and the MenB vaccine; encourage school and college administrators, as well as the medical community, to inform students and patients about MenB and the MenB vaccine; and to engage policymakers to ensure broader access to the MenB vaccine.