Meningitis and Influenza Vaccines

On behalf of Brock University Student Health Services and Wellness Clinic, I am writing to discuss the importance of protecting yourself from two vaccine preventable illnesses: bacterial meningitis and influenza.

Meningitis

Young adults, especially those living in university residential settings, represent a group that is at increased risk of contracting meningitis, a serious infection, which spreads from one person to another through close contact. Last year there were two cases of meningitis at Acadia University and this year there has been one case at McMaster University.

Meningococcal disease is a rare disease caused by a type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitides and, if not treated very early, can lead to swelling of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. This can cause severe and permanent disabilities such as hearing loss, brain damage, seizures, limb amputation and even death. There are five strains of this bacteria: A, B, C, Y and W-135.

We recommend the quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine (Men-C-ACWY) Menveo for those living in a university residence or similar accommodation. This covers four different strains of Neisseria meningitidis. If it was given more than five years before moving into a university residence, then a booster is recommended. Until recently there was no way to protect against the B strain, but there is a now a vaccine called Bexsero. It’s currently recommended for high-risk groups or anyone who desires protection against the B strain. It consists of two doses given at least a month apart.

We encourage you talk with your doctor or one of the doctors at the Student Health Services Medical Clinic and consider broad protection against this disease.

Influenza

Influenza is potentially a serious infection. It causes about 3,500 deaths in Canada every year. Most people with uncomplicated influenza will recover within a week to ten days, but even uncomplicated influenza will likely interfere with schoolwork and cause absence from the learning environment. Some people are at higher risk of developing more severe complications, and a flu shot is a way to help prevent it.

The seasonal flu vaccine is safe and effective and remains the best protection against flu viruses. Everyone in Ontario over the age of six months is encouraged to get the vaccine.

In addition to getting the flu shot, you can protect yourself by taking the following steps: clean hands frequently, cough and sneeze into your arm, keep your hands away from your face and if you use a tissue dispose of it as soon as possible and wash your hands.

If you have an OHIP card you can receive your flu shot at Campus Pharmacy on a walk in basis, Monday to Friday from 12 noon to 5 p.m.  International students can go to Niagara Public Health for their flu shot and all student can receive flu shots on an appointment basis at Student Health Services.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Darrell Grant
Medical Director, Student Health Services

Last updated November 2016.