As the Wellness Center Director of Hofstra University, I am writing to inform you about meningococcal disease, a potentially fatal bacterial infection commonly referred to as meningitis, and a law in New York State. On July 22, 2003, Governor George Pataki signed New York Public Health Law (NYS PHL) 2167 requiring institutions, including colleges and universities, to distribute information about meningococcal disease and vaccination to all students meeting enrollment criteria, whether they live on or off campus. This law became effective August 15, 2003 (prior to the fall 2003 semester).
Hofstra University is required to maintain a record of the following for each student:
- A response to receipt of meningococcal disease and vaccination information signed by the student or student’s parent or guardian. This must include information on the availability and cost of meningococcal meningitis vaccine; AND EITHER
- A record of meningococcal meningitis immunization within the past five years; OR
- An acknowledgement of meningococcal disease risks and refusal of meningococcal meningitis immunization signed by the student or student’s parent or guardian.
Meningitis is rare. However, when it strikes, its flu-like symptoms make diagnosis difficult. If not treated early, meningitis can lead to swelling of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal column as well as severe and permanent disabilities, such as hearing loss, brain damage, seizures, limb amputation, and even death.
Cases of meningitis among teens and young adults, ages 15 to 24, (the age of most college students) have more than doubled since 1991. The disease strikes about 3,000 Americans each year and claims about 300 lives. Between 100 and 125 meningitis cases occur on college campuses and as many as 15 students will die from the disease.
A vaccine is available that protects against four types of the bacteria that cause meningitis in the United States – types A, C, Y, and W-135. These types account for nearly two-thirds of meningitis cases among college students.
You may obtain the vaccine through your primary care provider or at the Hofstra University Wellness Center.
I encourage you to carefully review the linked materials. If you haven't already, please complete and return the Meningococcal Meningitis Response Form to Hofstra University's Student Health and Counseling Center, Wellness and Campus Living Center, North Campus, Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y. 11549, as soon as possible. You can also enter your response directly into Medicat App. To do this, log into the Hofstra Portal (my.hofstra.edu), then go into the APP menu (waffle icon) in the top right corner. Click on the Medicat App, which will take you to hofstra.medicatconnect.com/home.aspx. Go to the FORMS tab. After that, you will see a list of forms. Click on MENINGITIS RESPONSE to respond online. We are notifying you of this state law and are asking for your cooperation in complying with these state regulations. This law will require the University to exclude all noncompliant students from attending the University. The Student Health and Counseling Center (SHACC) is able to assist you in becoming compliant with Public Health Law 2167.
To learn more about meningitis and the vaccine, please feel free to contact the SHACC and/or consult the student’s health care provider. You can also find information about the disease on our FAQ page, at the New York State Department of Health website, the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or the American College Health Association’s website.
Hofstra University Student Health and Counseling Center
Meningitis Vaccination FAQ
Download the meningitis form HERE.
What You Need To Know:
- What is meningococcal disease?
- Who gets meningococcal disease?
- How is the germ meningococcus spread?
- What are the symptoms?
- How soon do the symptoms appear?
- What is the treatment for meningococcal disease?
- Is there a vaccine to prevent meningococcal meningitis?
- How do I get more information about meningococcal disease and vaccination?
Meningococcal disease is a severe bacterial infection of the bloodstream or meninges (a thin lining covering the brain and the spinal cord).
Anyone can get meningococcal disease, but it is more common in infants and children. For some college students, such as first-years living in residence halls, there is an increased risk of meningitis disease. Between 100 and 125 cases of meningococcal disease occur on college campuses every year in the United States; between five and 15 college students die each year as a result of infection. Currently, no data is available regarding whether children at overnight camps or residential schools are at the same increased risk of disease. However, these children can be in settings similar to college first-years living in residence halls. Other persons at increased risk include household contacts of a person known to have had this disease, and people traveling to parts of the world where meningitis is prevalent.
The meningococcus germ is spread by direct close contact with nose or throat discharges of an infected person. Many people carry this particular germ in their nose and throat without any signs of illness, while others may develop serious systems.
High fever, headache, vomiting, stiff neck, and a rash are symptoms of meningococcal disease. Among people who develop meningococcal disease, 10-15% die from it, in spite of treatment with antibiotics. Of those who live, permanent brain damage, hearing loss, kidney failure, loss of arms or legs, or chronic nervous system problems can occur.
The symptoms may appear two to 10 days after exposure, but usually within five days.
Antibiotics, such as penicillin G or ceftriaxone, can be used to treat people with meningococcal disease.
Yes, a safe and effective vaccine is available. The vaccine is 85-100% effective in preventing four kinds of bacteria (serogroups A, C, Y, W-135) that cause about 70% of the disease in the United States. The vaccine is safe, with mild and infrequent side effects such as redness and pain at the injection site lasting up to two days. After vaccination, immunity develops within seven to 10 days and remains effective for approximately three to five years. As with any vaccine, vaccination against meningitis may not protect 100% of all susceptible individuals.
Contact your family physician or your Hofstra University Health and Wellness Center at 516-463-6745. Additional information is also available on the websites of the New York State Department of Health, www.health.state.ny.us; and the American College Health Association. www.acha.org.
Courtesy of the NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, Bureau of Communicable Disease Control.