NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Smith College has joined dozens of universities across the country that are now requiring incoming students to get a meningitis B vaccination.
The CDC describes meningitis as a “serious illness caused by a type of bacteria” that can lead to an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis can also lead to blood infections.
According to a news release sent to 22News, the college’s decision to recommend students be vaccinated comes after 11 confirmed cases of the illness at universities across the country during the 2018-2019 school year. One of the cases led to the death of a student at a community college in Florida.
Meningitis is spread through close or lengthy contact, such as people living in the same house. This makes colleges and universities breeding grounds for the illness.
Currently, students entering college are required to get the meningococcal conjugate vaccine, which protects them against strains A, C, W, and Y. However, it does not protect individuals against the B strain of the illness.
The CDC said even when treated, meningitis kills 10 to 15 infected people out of 100. Those who do survive, however, often suffer lasting effects of the illness. About 10 to 20 out of every 100 people who survive suffer hearing loss, brain damage, kidney damage, amputations, nervous system problems, or severe scars from skin grafts.
Smith is the first college in Massachusetts to require incoming students to get the vaccine.