Health & Safety

National Meningitis Association Releases Prevention Toolkit For College Students

By: Megan Johnson, Wright State University

Do you have a student between the ages of 16 to 23 years old? If so, they are at an increased risk of contracting meningococcal disease, a serious bacterial infection that can lead to severe swelling of tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord or infection of the bloodstream.

Fast moving and deadly or debilitating, meningococcal disease kills 10 to 15 people out of 100 infected, with 11 to 19 out of every 100 survivors maintaining long-term disabilities including loss of limbs, deafness, nervous system problems or brain damage.

Meningococcal disease outbreaks on college campuses such as University Wisconsin Madison, Santa Clara University and Rutgers University demonstrate the importance of vaccination against the disease.

In response to the recent outbreaks, the National Meningitis Association (NMA) launched the Pledge2Prevent toolkit this week, according to a recent press release. The toolkit includes a variety of materials to help student organizations to advocate for campus vaccine mandates and to educate fellow students about meningococcal disease and prevention.

The outbreaks on these college campuses have primarily involved cases of serogroup B disease; thus, the toolkit emphasizes students should receive the MenACWY and MenB vaccines to achieve full protection. These vaccines offer protection against all five of the major strains of the disease, including A, C, W, Y and B.

The campaign involves the stories of two advocates, Kolton Kreston and Claudette Lewis. Kreston survived serogroup B while a junior in college and Lewis lost her daughter Cherice to the disease when she was a sophomore. The toolkit also includes a video with more advocate stories, urging students to talk to their doctors about the vaccines. Other materials in the toolkit include posters, fliers, an FAQ and a sample petition.

“Vaccination is the only way to protect yourself from meningococcal disease,” said Lynn Bozof, NMA President, in the press release.“Everyone at increased risk needs to know that you need both kinds of vaccines to be best protected against the five major types of this disease.”

The National Meningitis Association’s goal is to protect families from the devastating effects of meningococcal disease by educating the public, medical professionals and others about the disease and prevention. Learn more here.

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