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American College Health Association Media Release

Parent/Student Fact Sheet

Vaccination Recommendations for Students

Adolescents and young adults account for nearly 30 percent of all cases of meningitis in the United States. In addition, approximately 100 to 125 cases of meningococcal disease occur on college campuses each year, and five to 15 students will die as a result. Evidence shows approximately 70 to 80 percent of cases in the college age group are caused by serogroup C, Y, or W-135, which are potentially vaccine-preventable.

On February 10, 2005, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) voted to recommend that all incoming college freshmen living in dormitories be vaccinated against meningococcal disease. The ACIP also recommended vaccination for all adolescents at high school entry and during pre-adolescent health care visits (11 to 12 years old).

Adolescents and Young Adults at Increased Risk

Each year, meningococcal disease strikes up to 3,000 Americans. Adolescents and young adults account for nearly 30 percent of all cases in the U.S.  These children also have an unusually high death rate (nearly 25 percent) when compared to other age groups, and 20 percent of survivors endure permanent consequences, such as brain damage, hearing loss, kidney disease and limb amputations.

Meningococcal disease is contagious and can be spread through air droplets and direct contact with someone who’s infected.  Immunization can prevent up to 83 percent of meningococcal disease cases among adolescents and young adults.  While vaccination is the most effective means of preventing the disease, students should avoid sharing water bottles, cups, lip balm or any other item that touches a person’s mouth, since the disease is transmitted through saliva. 

In May 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued recommendations calling for routine vaccination with a meningococcal conjugate vaccine for young adolescents at the preadolescent doctor’s visit (age 11-12).  For those who have not previously been vaccinated, CDC also recommends immunization for young adults before entering high school or at about age 15 (whichever comes first) and for college freshmen living in dormitories.

Additionally, CDC states all other adolescents and college students wishing to reduce their risk may elect to be immunized.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians have released similar recommendations targeting adolescents and college students.  In addition, the American College Health Association recommends all first-year college students living in residence halls be immunized against meningococcal disease.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new meningococcal conjugate vaccine for use among persons aged 11 to 55 years, which is expected to provide long-term protection against meningococcal disease.


Last Updated 4/26/2006