For parents of kids in dorms -- meningococcal vaccine

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: For parents of kids in dorms -- meningococcal vaccine
By Shauna (Shauna) on Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - 10:24 pm: Edit

This is a note for all the parents of students going off to college in the fall:

It is VERY important that if your child will be living in a dorm they get their meningococcal vaccine. Meningococcus can cause bacterial meningitis, a potentially fatal disease.

I just got mine yesterday! Be forewarned, though, that the vaccine may give you a low-grade fever and some lethargy for a day or so afterward. I've been feeling extremely tired and slightly queasy all day long; I couldn't even go to dance class.

More information about meningococcus can be found here.


By Valpal (Valpal) on Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - 11:17 pm: Edit

Thanks Shauna. My D received her's about a month ago. Thankfully, she suffered no noticeable reactions to the vaccine.

By Bookworm (Bookworm) on Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - 11:18 pm: Edit

Sorry you felt ill. S got his yesterday and is fine (or at least, not complaining to me). However, MD told us he just had a case that left the boy in wheelchair. I never realized how important this vaccine was until reading CC.

By Patient (Patient) on Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - 11:34 pm: Edit

Thank you for the reminder to get the vaccine. I first heard about this on this site a few months ago. My son ended up getting both his tetanus booster and meningitis vaccine on the same day. He also felt sick pretty much all day the next day but then he was fine.

By Soozievt (Soozievt) on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 12:01 am: Edit

Shauna, it is great that you are giving this heads up. There was a long thread on this very topic about a month or two ago on the Parent Forum. Because of that thread, I realized that this vaccine was more necessary than I had originally thought. My daughter got the shot two days ago.


By Marite (Marite) on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 12:04 am: Edit

Reactions to the vaccine vary. My S received a shot prior to going off to camp and had no reaction whatsoever. But tetanus shots have given him mild fever before.

By Patient (Patient) on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 12:07 am: Edit

Yes, that is why I mentioned it. I don't know which, or the combination, caused his discomfort. Tetanus frequently has this effect so I suspect it may have been that shot causing the reaction.

By Iflyjets (Iflyjets) on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 12:49 am: Edit

My daughter received her vaccination about a month ago without any problems. Before having the shot, I researched side-effects, particularly since she was recovering from mono, and I was concerned about interactions. Below is the CDC reference for your information that I came across. Note that a low-grade fever can be a side-effect, albeit an less common one. I have numerous additional references if anyone has further concerns.

By Shauna (Shauna) on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 01:14 am: Edit

Oh, I'm sorry; I guess I should have done a search and just brought the old thread back from the dead.

Ah well, better safe than sorry!


By Mosquito86 (Mosquito86) on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 06:13 am: Edit

It definitely is important to get this vaccine. Three years ago the son of my father's best friend died from this disease that he caught in the bathroom stalls in college.

The sadder part was the death was sudden. He just came home, had a stomach ache, thought it was food poisoning and went to sleep. Next day he decided to get checked w/ doctor. They found his blood sugar was extremely low (it was like water) and he died an hour or so later.

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 08:02 am: Edit

Thank you for the information.
Same here, sad stories from the local high school which has an indoor pool.

By Monkey (Monkey) on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 09:08 pm: Edit

I think that most colleges require this vaccine before they will admit students to their dorm. I know at Penn State it is a MUST before a freshman receives final registration.

By Patient (Patient) on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 10:51 pm: Edit

At Stanford I believe that it is recommended but not yet required, so assuming not all are requiring it, it is good to be advertising it on this site.

By Valpal (Valpal) on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 10:54 pm: Edit

Mosquito, that is a truly terrifying story! I've heard a number of others also. It seems that the danger is in the fact that the disease usually first appears as some sort of virus or stomach flu. People don't take it very serious initially (often, not even doctors), but it progresses increadibly quickly. By the time anyone figures out that things might be serious, the patient is all but lost. It's the stuff of parental nightmares.

The state of Pennsylvania requires that all incoming college freshmen receive the vaccine, or sign a waiver, stating that they are aware of the risks faced by college students living communally. Our Primary Care Physician does not stock the vaccine, so we had to otain it from the local Health Dept. We Had to pay out of pocket, but I couldn't see any choice but to pony up the money. Sending her away to college for the first time is giving me enough anxiety.

By Songman (Songman) on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 11:27 pm: Edit

Thank you shauna. I have never heard of this before.

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 11:45 pm: Edit

It is required at my son's school. The mother of my daughter's best friend is an ICU nurse. She asked me point blank a couple of weeks ago if I had taken son in for his shot yet. She was relieved to learn I had. She had also taken her son in. She sees cases every year. They lose some and save some. A patient they had last year suffered through multiple amputations because the disease attacked the vascular system. If a shot can reduce the risk, there's no question for me.

By F3arxn03vil (F3arxn03vil) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 01:15 am: Edit

I had the meningitis vaccination 2 months ago. My arm was pretty sore for a few days but nothing too bad. I just had the the last shot of the Hepitits B series today and my arm is slightly sore from that too...

By Any1can (Any1can) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 08:25 am: Edit

This is interesting. I was all set to get S vaccinated when I went to UCLA parent orientation. The nurses from the health center actually recommended to NOT get the vaccine! They said they have had 1 case of menigitis in 25 years and they have found that because of the potential risk and cost of the vaccine that it just wasn't warranted. Ummm, now I'm not sure what to do. I worked in a pediatric hospital and saw numerous cases, mostly young kids. However, several years ago, three girls got it from sharing a cookie, 2 died, one lost her leg.
So, it is definetly out there.

By Marite (Marite) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 08:53 am: Edit


I recall vaguely reading about some cases at UMASS-Amherst last year; so it is definitely worth checking into. On our HMO plan, it's free. We did it for our S when he went for his annual check up (so he could go to camp).

By Songman (Songman) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 09:12 am: Edit

Marite- Yes I just told my wife about this and she barked back " I know about it,he's going to the doctor next week"....thanks for the info. The CC board is a must for anyone that is approaching or in the middle of the college years!

By Chinaman (Chinaman) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 09:31 am: Edit

After reading here I got my kids vaccinated even though I have to pay from my pocket. But it is worth it. Thanks

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 09:39 am: Edit

In - I believe - 2001, Tulane lost two students over a 7 month period in what was determined to be isolated cases. (Tulane now requires students to be immunized.) SMU and the University of North Texas have also had a case or two. We live in the Dallas area, and granted, my friend the ICU nurse seeing a couple of cases a year in a large hospital may not be statistically siginificant. But it's 100% significant and 100% devastating if it is you or someone you love.

By Coureur (Coureur) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 10:27 am: Edit

For those of you living near the Canadian border or who will be visiting Britain, get your kid vaccinated there if you can. Those countries have the much better conjugate meningiococcal vaccine instead of the old-fashioned polysaccharide vaccine like we have in the US. The new conjugate vaccines offer much better and longer-lasting protection.

By Cleveland (Cleveland) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 12:52 pm: Edit

Regarding Any1can's post: As a nurse and a parent, I think that those 2 nurses were irresponsible and foolish. That's like saying, "don't wear a seatbelt because you probably won't be in a horrible accident." I read the information and I got my son vaccinated.

By Sybbie719 (Sybbie719) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 01:02 pm: Edit

My D's doctor also does not stock the immunization but will order it. I contacted my inusrance company who told me that more insurance companies are aware of the immunization recommendation. I have Empire and the immunization is covered @ 100% as long as physician is in network and we make the $15 co-pay. For us it was $15 well spent.

By Achat (Achat) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 01:06 pm: Edit

My son's college is giving the vaccine for $53. We opted not to get it from our doctor as a result. Does the $53 sound too much? I have no idea..

By Marite (Marite) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 01:16 pm: Edit


We had the same deal as Sybbie: a $15 co-pay for the check-up. But I've read of others having to fork out $80+ for the vaccine, so you may be getting a good deal through the college. It depends on your insurance.

By Achat (Achat) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 01:18 pm: Edit

Thanks. I called the doctor anyway and scheduled an appointment for the vaccine. Son could forget to get the vaccine when he gets there. I'll find out about the insurance later..

By Bookworm (Bookworm) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 01:26 pm: Edit

Paid MD $80 for menningitus shot; it would have been $65 at Public health center. The MD will bill insurance, so I don't know yet if covered. Got TB shot at Public health today, $9

My son was in a college program all summer, and I urged him to get shot there. Needless to say, he must be walked to doctor's office and hair salon. Achat, I think you are wise to get vaccine before college.

By Achat (Achat) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 01:31 pm: Edit

No, reading all this here got me alarmed. I was happy with the college deal for the last few weeks. Besides if he gets a reaction, it is better to get it here than be sick in college. is hard to let go.

By Marite (Marite) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 01:37 pm: Edit


Maybe long-distance nagging will work, LOL. As for the reaction, my S did not have any. Others report very temporary discomfort. So perhaps you could leave it until college. But if you are in an HMO like mine, you could get the vaccine much cheaper.

By Chinaman (Chinaman) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 01:40 pm: Edit

Man o Man I paid $140 for one vaccine as it is not covered. Well it is okay.

By Midwesterner (Midwesterner) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 02:15 pm: Edit

Ours was also over $100 just for the shot. Ouch!

By Dancersmom (Dancersmom) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 06:22 pm: Edit

I started trying to get the shot for my D last January. I started with her physician's office. They don't have it. They told me to try the health department. They didn't have it. They told me to call a health service that specializes in immunizations for people travelling overseas and mention that they had sent me. That would give me a $10.00 discount. The travel health service had the vaccine. The woman I spoke to there told me that my insurance would not cover the shot and that my cost would be $90.00. She said it was so expensive because once the vial of vaccine is opened it spoils within 24 hours and has to be discarded. The demand is low for the vaccine so we customers are basically paying for an entire vial of vaccine instead on one shot's worth. She strongly suggested that I have my D vaccinated by her college health service. Appointments are difficult to schedule with the travel health service. They only see patients once a week. Great customer service! I have elected to have my D vaccinated by her college health service as soon as she arrives at her school in August. I decided that it would be easier than trying to find time to get to a health service 35 miles from our home. I am considering writing a letter to my physician asking him to stock the vaccine. Perhaps if more of us consumers demand the vaccine it will be easier to come by.

I'm glad that there is a vaccine available. My father used to work as a civilian psychological researcher for the U.S. Army at Fort Knox. Every couple of years or so when I was growing up he would come home and tell us that there had been a meningitis outbreak on the post. Our entire family would have to take horse-size pills for a week to prevent us from spreading the disease to others we might come in contact with. The downside was that the pills would not prevent us from contracting meningitis. No one in the family ever got sick, but I know that several soldiers died of the disease while my dad worked at Fort Knox.

The consequences of meningitis can be horrendous. I have urged all of my friends with kids heading off to college to get them vaccinated. I hope that more parents will become aware of the need for the vaccine and that more physicians will offer it. I know that Family Circle and Woman's Day magazines have had articles about meningitis in the past few years. I applaud them for spreading the word. You too Shauna!

By 1moremom (1moremom) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 06:36 pm: Edit

We paid $85; I'm sure it hurt me more than my son. My question is-- Do they need to be vaccinated annually?

By Marite (Marite) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 06:49 pm: Edit

I think it's supposed to be effective for 4-5 years.

By Towlam (Towlam) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 07:16 pm: Edit

Thanks, Shauna, I just called my daughter's doctor and he said that she should get this shot before she leaves for college. Actually, they are out but will call us in the next week when they get some more in.


By Angstridden (Angstridden) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 07:25 pm: Edit

I started the thread on this a few months ago because of a commercial I had seen on TV. D. got the shot at the health center..I think it was around $70? not sure. Achat your price is super good.
We got a letter in mail today from her college offering it at a higher price..Glad we took care of it.
NOW should I also get my highschooler inoculated?

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Friday, July 30, 2004 - 07:27 pm: Edit

actually I think high school students would be at greater risk. They seem more likely to share drinks food etc than college students.
I wonder what reasoning is to place emphasis on college students over younger?

By Sac (Sac) on Saturday, July 31, 2004 - 01:28 am: Edit

Emerald, I think it's because of the dorms. Meningitis spreads quickly in barracks, dorms, and other situations where a lot of people live in close contact.

We had our S ask his doctor whether or not they recommended the shot. His doctor said yes, so he will get it next week.

By Achat (Achat) on Saturday, July 31, 2004 - 08:05 am: Edit

I found out my insurance will not cover meningitis vaccine. So I'll go with my son's school's offer (and nag him). Thanks everyone!

By Thedad (Thedad) on Saturday, July 31, 2004 - 04:58 pm: Edit

D received her shot yesterday. They HMO had not had the vaccine in stock when she had her pre-college physical but ordered it and saved a dose for her to have when she returned from ballet camp. Somewhat to my surprise, there was no extra charge for this...I guessed they lumped it in with the other stuff for the physical...and didn't even have to make a formal appointment...just call in the morning to say "she'll be there this afternoon."

By Kaci (Kaci) on Saturday, July 31, 2004 - 11:14 pm: Edit

Our pediatrician's office charges $95 (our PPO does not cover) and her college health center charges $90. We opted to have the pediatrician's office give her the shot when she has her physical and TB test (which is required) next week before heading to campus at the end of August. Reading this thread makes me think I had better double check to make sure they will have the vaccination available. Told them we wanted her to have it when i made the appointment, but often the scheduling person is uninformed in my experience...

By Thedad (Thedad) on Saturday, July 31, 2004 - 11:38 pm: Edit

Post above made me remember one other thing. D took a deep breath and switched to a regular adult doctor for her pre-college physical instead of her pediatrician. Transitions on multiple fronts.

By Patient (Patient) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 12:28 am: Edit

She's probably glad not to have to wait for her appointment in the teeny tiny primary color chairs....

By Valpal (Valpal) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 02:17 am: Edit

I tried to switch my D over from her pediatrician to our adult primary care practice prior to entering college, but they don't take patients under the age of 18. D doesn't turn 18 until October. So this particular transition will have to wait a few months.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 02:30 am: Edit

you have to have a physical for college?
I guess I didnt remember this
I know my 14 yr old needs a physical to play school sports ( and a birth certificate to play community center sports)
But all of our family doctors see anyone.
Two of us go to a Naturopath and two go to a family practioner.
Its nice not to have so many transitions

By Patient (Patient) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 10:58 am: Edit

I don't know that you HAVE to have one. I think ours just had to produce his immunization records (there was an online health registration process). But in the last couple of years, I have sent the kids in for annual checkups...I just think it is a good idea to watch for silent problems, not that a physical can catch all of them, but some....

My husband is a doctor and doctors' kids are reputed to be under-cared-for medically--but I arrange the annual checkups and make sure they go. No one gives me a terribly hard time about it.

By Kaci (Kaci) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 11:33 am: Edit

Daughter's college actually does not require a physical, but they do require a TB test and our doctor's office would not give her the vaccine (which I want her to have) or the TB test without a physical.

By Mattman (Mattman) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 12:55 pm: Edit

It's optional where I'm going (UMich) but I strongly recommend everyone to get one, just because it would be such a waste to die or be a cripple for life because you wouldn't spend the time for a simple shot. I've had no negative effects from having it a week ago.

By Fenix_Three (Fenix_Three) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 01:32 am: Edit

Tell your kids not to drink and drive. You paid good money for a vaccine that reduces a small chance to a smaller chance of contracting the disease. How about some free advice on drinking? Will have much more significant implications in the future.

As for the vaccine, my pharmacist said to get it if there's an outbreak anywhere in the country... The thing is Cal had a student die last year and my parents are still worrying about the side effects of the vaccine! Ugh, I suppose I'll have to pay for it myself at the health center this fall.

By Tabby (Tabby) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 01:59 am: Edit

Another alternative if your physician does not stock the vaccine (our situation) is to have your pharmacist order the vaccine (about $80), take it to your doctor, and have it administered. Eckerds ordered it and I picked it up, popped it in my mini-Igloo, and took S to doctor's office. Easy. (I posted this info on the "old" meningitis thread, if you are having deja vu)

By Over30 (Over30) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 11:37 am: Edit

At a meeting last night a woman related this story. Her niece, a scholarship athlete at a small religious college thought she had the flu 2 years ago. Went to the doctor after about 6 hours because she was feeling worse. She lost both legs, one arm, and part of her hand on the other. There wasn't an outbreak on campus, she's the only one who became ill. Both of my boys, college and high school, have now had the vaccine.

The college honored her sholarship and she's now the team manager (I don't remember what sport). Kudos to the school.

By Twinkletoes696 (Twinkletoes696) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 12:14 pm: Edit

If it's a dead vaccine, is there ANY chance of contracting the disease from receiving the shot?

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Wednesday, August 04, 2004 - 12:44 pm: Edit

Hepatitis B is both more contagious and deadly, I suggest when you are at the dr, you also start on the Hep shots as well.

It doesn't look like there is any risk from a dead vaccine.

April 2004

Subject: Meningitis Vaccine Information

Dear Parent or Guardian and Student:

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the American College Health Association (ACHA) recommend and Indiana State Law requires that we inform you about meningococcal disease and the benefits of vaccination. The following is provided by the Indiana University Health Center to assist you in making a decision about having your student receive this vaccine.

The bacteria that this vaccine protects against, N. meningitis, can cause two rare, life threatening types of infection. One is meningitis, an infection of the membranes that line the spinal cord and the brain. The other is meningococcemia, an infection that spreads to many areas of the body through the blood. Both of these infections can cause serious permanent damage to those who recover from them.

Recent studies conducted by the ACHA and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDCP) showed these rare diseases affect college students and

non-students of similar age at approximately the same rate. These studies found college freshman who live in dormitories to be at a modestly increased risk of meningococcal disease relative to other persons their age. This increased risk may be due to crowded living conditions and therefore may apply to students living in fraternities and sororities as well as those living in residence halls.

The vaccine has been demonstrated to be 85-100% effective in a number of studies. The duration of the immunity is approximately 3-5 years. The vaccine does not protect against one strain of the N. meningitis bacteria. This strain, serogroup B, causes approximately 30-35% of these rare infections in college students. The vaccine also does not provide protection against viral meningitis, which generally is a less severe disease.

Most vaccine recipients experience no side effects, however, redness and soreness at the injection site are possible for 1 or 2 days. Persons with acute illness should not receive the vaccine until they are well. Persons with known sensitivity to thimerosal (mercury) should not receive the vaccine. The effects of the vaccine on the fetus are unknown, as no studies have been done, therefore meningococcal vaccine should be given to pregnant women only if clearly needed.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a committee that makes recommendations to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention on vaccine policy, recommends the following as of June 30, 2000:

• Providers of medical care to incoming and current college freshman, particularly those who plan to or already live in dormitories and residence halls, should, during routine medical care, inform these students and their parents about meningococcal disease and the benefits of vaccination. ACIP does not recommend that the level of increased risk among freshman warrants any specific changes in living situations for freshman.
• College freshman who want to reduce their risk for meningococcal disease should either be administered vaccine (by a doctor’s office or student health service) or directed to a site where vaccine is available.
• The risk for meningococcal disease among non-freshman college students is similar to that for the population. However, the vaccine is safe and efficacious and therefore can be provided to non-freshman undergraduates who want to reduce their risk for meningococcal disease.
• Colleges should inform incoming and/or current freshman, particularly those who plan to live or already live in dormitories or residence halls, about meningococcal disease and the availability of a safe and effective vaccine.
• Public health agencies should provide colleges and health-care providers with information about meningococcal disease and the vaccine as well as information regarding how to obtain vaccine.

The ACIP and CDCP recommends this vaccine for persons with compromised immunity and those traveling to areas of the world where meningococcal disease is more common.

The American College Health Association recommends that students consider vaccination to reduce their risk for potentially fatal meningococcal disease. They suggest the following students should be vaccinated:

• Entering college students, particularly those living in dormitories or resident halls, who elect to decrease their risk for meningococcal disease.

• Non-pregnant undergraduate students 25 years of age or under requesting vaccination in order to decrease their risk for disease.

• Students with medical conditions that compromise immunity (e.g., HIV, absent spleen, antibody deficiency).

• Students traveling to areas of the world where meningococcal disease is more common.

The Indiana University Health Center supports these recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and American College Health Association. Cost of the vaccine is $75.00 (at the time this document was printed). More information about meningococcal meningitis and the meningococcal vaccine can be found on the Indiana University Health Center web site at

Other important vaccines include hepatitis B, chickenpox and influenza. Some of you may have already received chickenpox or hepatitis B vaccines in childhood. If not we strongly recommend them. We also recommend annual flu shots especially for those living in dorms or Greek housing.

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