comscore How to evade the college meningitis menace | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

How to evade the college meningitis menace


    Students in the UMass-Amherst marching band take part in a pep rally in Boston in 2014. MenB is the strain of meningitis that’s recently been spreading through some college campuses, including UMass-Amherst.

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email questions to

QUESTION: My son is enrolled at a small college in Vermont, and I heard that there was an outbreak of meningitis on East Coast college campuses.

He’s had a lot of his vaccinations, but what is available to protect him from this?

— Sharon S., Syracuse, N.Y.

ANSWER: We are glad you are asking. All parents of teens should talk to their kids’ doc about getting the MenB vaccine, which has been available since 2014. The preferred age for vaccination is 16 to 18, but anytime after that is fine, too.

MenB is the strain of meningitis that’s recently been spreading through some college campuses. The colleges affected (so far) are Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, Smith, UMass-Amherst and, on the other coast, Oregon State University.

If your son is up on his vaccinations, he’s probably protected against the most common strains of meningitis (A, C, W and Y). If not, then he should arrange to get those vaccinations, as well as the one covering B. You can discuss the best schedule for that with his doctor.

The good news is that cases of meningitis in the U.S. are at record lows. The bad news is that between 10 and 15 percent of the cases that do happen turn out to be fatal, and up to 20 percent cause the infected person lasting disabilities.

It’s worth knowing that the MenB vaccine does trigger mild side effects, such as soreness, tiredness, fatigue, headache, fever or chills, nausea and diarrhea, in about half of folks who get it.

These reactions can hang around for a few days, but they generally disappear completely within a week — a small price to pay.


Comments (0)

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature

Scroll Up