Globally, first-year university students may have an increased risk of disease caused by meningococcus (bacterial meningitis) in comparison to the general population.
How is the disease caused by meningococcus transmitted?
Disease caused by meningococcus is rare but unpredictable. While many are exposed to the organism, not everyone succumbs to the disease. The bacteria are transmitted from person-to-person through droplets of respiratory or throat secretions from carriers. Close and prolonged contact, such as kissing, sneezing or coughing on someone, sharing eating or drinking utensils when living in close quarters (such as residences, dormitories and lecture halls), increases the chance of getting meningitis from an infected individual (a carrier). Clinical studies suggest that university students are more susceptible because they live and work in close proximity to each other.
How can disease caused by meningococcus be prevented?
The good news is that disease caused by the meningococcus bacteria can be prevented with a vaccine. It is recommended that students are vaccinated against meningitis with the vaccine called Menactra. The vaccine has been in use worldwide and effectively protects against of the most common strains of the disease. Protection from the vaccine will last through adulthood and therefore does not require a future booster dose. It is important to note that this vaccine, Menactra, is not the same as the vaccine that is administered to babies. Vaccine side effects are rare and usually mild, consisting mainly of redness and swelling at the site of injection, which may last for up to two days. We recommend that students and their parents speak to a health care professional or the university campus health services staff for more information on the disease, the vaccine, and whether they are eligible for vaccination.
How does the vaccination process work?
The university suggests that parents discuss vaccination against disease caused by meningococcus with their son or daughter, and be informed that the vaccine can be obtained on the Potchefstroom Campus at the Health Care Centre, Building E16 where qualified healthcare professionals will be on hand to administer the vaccine. For any enquiries, contact: 018-299 4345 or Helene.Nel@nwu.ac.za.
Additional vaccination against Measles, Mumps and Rubella (German measles, (the MMR vaccine) and Whooping Cough is also strongly recommended.
Download this consent/request form to be completed and signed by the prospective student or parent/guardian. The prospective student or parent/guardian has to submit this completed form with a proof of payment on the day of vaccination or send it to the following e-mail address: Helene.Nel@nwu.ac.za.
The vaccination can also be done at a travel clinic, a pharmacy or your family doctor prior to registration as an NWU student.