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Stay Informed, Stay Healthy: Recognizing Meningitis B Symptoms

As you know, it can be very easy to contract a cold/flu while being away at school. It is important to stay mindful of maintaining hand hygiene, getting lots of good quality sleep, avoiding people who are sick as much as possible, nourishing your body with healthy foods and lots of water, staying active and taking vitamins. As Meningitis B becomes more of a concern, it is important to be able to distinguish whether your symptoms are arising due to Meningitis B, or as a result of a cold/flu. Meningitis B symptoms often begin as flu-like illness and rapidly worsen, so it's important to seek consultation if unsure. We encourage students to get the vaccine and to be aware of symptoms.


What Is Meningococcal Disease and How Can It Be Prevented?

Meningococcal disease is a serious bacterial infection that can lead to meningitis or an infection of the blood stream. There are several bacterial strains (i.e. A, B, C, W, Y) that cause Meningococcal disease. It is primarily spread through saliva (e.g., shared water bottles or drinks, cigarettes, joints, open-mouthed kissing, sharing lipsticks or eating utensils). To learn more about meningococcal disease, click here.



Types of Meningococcal Disease

  • Meningococcal Meningitis

    • Swelling in the lining of the brain and spinal cord

    • Most common form of meningococcal infection

  • Meningococcal Septicemia (Meningococcemia)

    • Infection in the bloodstream

    • Less common form of meningococcal infection


Symptoms: Meningitis vs Septicemia


High-Risk Individuals

It is strongly encouraged that students at high-risk (those with underlying health conditions) get vaccinated. High-risk conditions include:

  • Acquired complement deficiencies (e.g., receiving eculizumab)

  • Asplenia (functional or anatomic)

  • Cochlear implant recipients (pre/post implant)

  • Complement, properdin, factor D, or primary antibody deficiencies

  • HIV


Meningitis B Vaccination

It is commonly thought that we receive Meningitis B vaccinations in our childhood. However, it is important to note that this is not the case. We are typically vaccinated for Meningococcal C, which is provided for free for those at 12 months of age, and Meningococcal ACWY, which is provided for free for those in grade 7. Meningococcal B is not a routine (free) vaccine.


Students are encouraged to book an appointment with your family healthcare provider for Meningitis B. Meningitis B vaccinations are not publicly-funded, which means that you must get a prescription from your healthcare provider to receive a vaccine for Meningitis B.


What If You Don't Have a Family Healthcare Provider?

To receive a prescription from KFL&A Public Health, complete the MenB vaccine prescription request form. A nurse will review your request and contact you to arrange to send a prescription to your preferred pharmacy. Or, you can visit Student Wellness Services on campus, located in Mitchell Hall.

  • The cost of the vaccine may be covered by your health benefit plan.


We encourage students to get vaccinated to protect against Meningitis B. Please see the step-by-step process of getting the vaccine:

  • STEP 1: Students need to check first if they've received the MenB vaccine (different from the publicly funded meningitis series). You can do this by contacting your local public health unit or online immunization records system (e.g., Immunize Connect Ontario - ICON).

  • STEP 2: Make an appointment with a healthcare provider to get a prescription for a MenB vaccine. This can be a doctor, nurse practitioner (or nurse at SWS due to our medical directive).  

  • STEP 3: Take the vaccine prescription to a local pharmacy (e.g., DrugSmart on campus) and have it filled.  

  • STEP 4: Make an appointment at SWS or at the pharmacy to get the 1st vaccine injection. If you get it done at a pharmacy, there likely will be a $15 dispensing fee. 

  • STEP 5: Get your 2nd vaccine injection at least one month later.

  • STEP 6: Submit MenB vaccine claim to supplementary health insurance plans (e.g., ones through AMS/SGPS and/or parents/supporters).


Stay safe and be mindful of any symptoms that you may be experiencing. Take good care of yourself and your peers!


References

KFL&A Public Health. (n.d.). Invasive Meningococcal Disease. Retrieved February 22 from: https://www.kflaph.ca/en/health-topics/Meningococcal_disease.aspx



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