University of Wisconsin students encouraged to get 2nd dose of Meningitis B vaccine

MADISON — The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is reminding UW-Madison students who received their first dose of meningococcal B vaccine on campus in response to an outbreak this fall to get their second dose of the vaccine while home on winter break.

Meningococcal disease is caused by bacteria and can lead to meningitis, an infection of the brain and spinal cord, as well as blood infections.  A person can get seriously ill very quickly. The three infected students at the UW-Madison were hospitalized and are now recovering.

Important information about this vaccine:

  • The first dose of the meningococcal B vaccine is called Bexsero, and students need to get the same vaccine for their second dose.
  • The student, or their parent, should notify their care provider that they received the first dose as part of the UW-Madison outbreak.
  • Students should bring documentation that they received the first dose of the vaccine to their appointment for the second dose. They can find the information in their UW health record or in the Wisconsin Immunization Registry (WIR).
  • Most health insurance plans will cover the second dose of the vaccine if a provider in the student’s network gives the vaccine.
  • Any student who is not covered for this vaccine or cannot access it can receive it from University Health Services (UHS) at no cost. Students can contact UHS at health@wisc.edu if they are having difficulty accessing the vaccine.

Meningoccocus bacteria are spread by direct contact with respiratory and oral secretions, like saliva, spit, and mucus, of an infected person or an asymptomatic carrier.  It can be spread through kissing, sharing eating utensils, drinking from the same container, or by coughing.