Staying Safe With College Immunizations

You’ve probably seen advertisements and reminders to get your flu shots every winter, but did you know that there are some vaccinations that are important to get in the spring and summer?

This time of year is perfect to get a meningitis booster vaccine, especially if you or a family member are headed off for the first year of college in the upcoming fall.

What Is Meningitis and Why Do I Need a Vaccine?

Meningitis is a condition in which the covering of the brain and spinal cord becomes severely inflamed. It can be caused by a variety of bacteria and viruses. Infections caused by viruses are usually more mild, while infections caused by bacteria such as Neisseria meningitidis and Streptococcus pneumoniae are extremely serious and dangerous. These bacteria commonly live in our nasal passages and throats, but become infectious when they break through and invade through the bloodstream or spinal fluid.

Infections can be very serious, even in previously young and healthy people. Meningitis infection can cause a person to become rapidly ill and experience headache, light-sensitivity, nausea, and fever. One of the common signs of meningitis is a rash of tiny red-purple spots and a stiff neck. Meningococcal infections can be fatal in approximately 10% of cases, and up to 20% experience permanent disability such as loss of limbs, deafness, seizures, or brain damage.

Jamie Schanbaum’s Story

No one thinks that they or their family members will contract meningitis, but Jamie Schanbaum’s story is a reminder that anyone can be affected. Jamie was a 20-year old undergraduate student at the University of Texas at Austin when she contracted meningitis. She was hospitalized for 7 months, and her infection resulted in loss of both of her lower legs, and most of her fingers on both hands.

What Can Be Done To Prevent Meningitis?

The best way to protect oneself from meningitis is by getting the meningitis vaccine. Currently, there are several different types of vaccines available. These vaccines vary based on which serotypes, or subgroups of bacteria, are included.

  • MenACWY Vaccines: these vaccines prevent 4 types of meningococcal infection (those caused by groups A, C, W, and Y). All 4 strains are contained within a single vaccine. This immunization is required by law for new college students, in part due to the advocacy of Jamie Schanbum.
  • MenB Vaccines: these vaccines prevent 1 type of meningococcal infection (those caused by group B). These vaccines are usually only given to those at a particular increased risk of infection.
  • MenABCWY: The FDA just approved a new vaccine created by Pfizer, called PENBRAYA. This is the first vaccine to provide protection against 5 types of infections (those caused by groups A, B, C, W, and Y).

Schedule your Vaccination Appointment


What are the most common symptoms of meningitis?

High temperature, very cold hands and feet, vomiting, headache and confusion, stiff neck and sensitivity to light, blotchy skin or pink-purple “pin prick” rashes

Am I at risk for getting meningitis?

There are several types of meningitis infections. The most common causes vary by age, medical conditions, and environments.

  • Age: Newborns/Toddlers, Young Adults (ages 16-24 yrs), and Older Adults (ages 65+)
  • Medical Conditions: Conditions that weaken your immune response (such as asplenia, HIV, and complement deficiencies) may increase your risk of contracting meningitis. If you think you may be at risk due to one of these factors, please talk with your doctor!
  • Environment: Those living in close proximity to others, such as college students, military recruits, and those in refugee camps, are at increased risk.
    Travel to sub-saharan African is also associated with an increased risk of meningococcal disease.

Who is required to get a meningitis vaccine?

According to the Department of State Health Services:

  • • All students attending 7th through 12th grades must receive one dose of the quadrivalent (MenACWY) vaccine on or after their 11th birthday.
  • • All students entering an institution of higher education must have received a quadrivalent (MenACWY) vaccine within the 5 years prior to enrollment. This vaccine must be received at least 10 days before the semester begins.

When and where can I get a meningitis vaccine?

Vaccines are offered here at Martin’s Wellness at Lamar Plaza or Dripping Springs, as well as at the pharmacies! You can schedule an appointment online here or walk in and talk to us about whether a meningitis vaccine may be right for you!