In the final stages of a months-long public health collaboration in response to the diagnosis of serogroup B meningitis in two students last February, third doses of Trumenba vaccine will be administered to members of the Providence College community on Saturday.
The clinic will be held in Peterson Field House from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Three doses of Trumenba vaccine are required to provide the best protection against serogroup B meningitis. Providence College, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RI DOH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Rhode Island Disaster Medical Assistance Team (RI DMAT), and the Rhode Island Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) have been coordinating on the response. The first doses of vaccine were administered on February 8 and February 11, days after the second student displayed symptoms of meningitis. Additionally, close contacts were identified and antibiotic prophylaxis was administered to people who were at highest risk for contracting the disease.
Both students who were diagnosed in February were hospitalized and have since recovered.
"Serogroup B meningitis is very serious. The identification of this rare, but dangerous threat and the coordination of a swift, effective response is a clear demonstration of the value of public health," said Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director of Health. "Many people deserve credit for this success in preventing additional cases, including the leadership at Providence College, the staff at the Providence College Student Health Center, CDC, the Rhode Island Disaster Medical Assistance Team, the volunteers with the Rhode Island Medical Reserve Corps, staff at the Rhode Island Department of Health, and all the student volunteers who pitched in."
"We are also offering the vaccine to our entire incoming class to ensure that as many students as possible are protected," said Providence College President Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P. "We are working with the Department of Health and the CDC to make sure that all students are accommodated. That includes students who may have opted out of the vaccine last year, but who have since changed their minds, as well as transfer students and students who were studying abroad last year."
The vaccine was made available to incoming freshmen because students living in congregate living settings are at increased risk for meningococcal meningitis. On August 30, 749 freshmen were vaccinated. Second doses will be available to them in two months and third doses will be available in six months.
The shots at the Saturday clinic will be administered by MRC and RI DMAT. Both organizations also vaccinated people at the clinics for the first and second doses. More than 3,500 people were vaccinated at the clinics for the first dose. At clinics for the second dose in April, more than 2,700 people were vaccinated. In addition to undergraduate students, vaccination was recommended for graduate students living on campus, and staff who are under 25 years old and/or have suppressed immune systems.
Meningococcal meningitis is an infection of the lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. The bacterial infection is spread from person to person through direct contact with respiratory droplets. People are vaccinated against some strains of meningitis when they are adolescents, usually at the same time that they receive vaccines that protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap vaccine) and human papillomavirus (HPV vaccine). However, serogroup B is not included in that meningitis vaccine. The vaccine that protects against serogroup B meningitis was only approved by the Food and Drug Administration in October 2014.
Certain precautions should be taken to prevent the spread of meningococcal meningitis and other infectious diseases. People should:
Always cough into a sleeve or tissue Wash their hands frequently Use hand sanitizer often Avoid sharing food, drinks, smoking materials, eating utensils, cosmetics, or lip balm
More information about meningococcal meningitis is available online (RI DOH | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)