“My mom’s a pediatrician, and she told me to,” he said. “So, gotta do what mom says.”
With the most recent case reported in November, the CDC said there was a strong likelihood of more cases despite steps taken by the university, including encouraging students not to share cups. The agency says it’s important as many students as possible get vaccinated to help halt the outbreak. The disease can be spread through kissing, coughing or lengthy contact.
The Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of a vaccine, Bexsero, that has been approved for use in Canada, Europe and Australia but is not yet licensed in the U.S.
Made by Switzerland-based Novartis, Bexsero is the only vaccine designed to ward off the strain. It is in the approval pipeline in the United States. The CDC said it does not consider it experimental.
Thomas Clark, chief of the meningitis branch of the CDC, was on campus Monday to oversee the vaccinations.
He said that with a disease outbreak, the agency always considers vaccinations if they are available. He said the agency considered it initially over the summer and moved forward after there were new cases of the B strain in the fall.
“It tends to cause outbreaks that smolder,” he said. “They don’t explode.”
More than 8,000 people were safely vaccinated as part of studies that resulted in its approval in the other nations where it is now licensed, the CDC said. Since the vaccine does not include live bacteria, it cannot give someone meningococcal disease, or meningitis.
The illness can cause swelling of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It’s fairly rare in the U.S., but those who get it develop symptoms quickly and can die in a couple of days. About 10 to 15 percent of cases are fatal. Survivors can suffer mental disabilities, hearing loss and paralysis.