Meningitis – Shot or Not?

Get your vaccination

With the tragic death of an OSU student just before break, it is timely to discuss meningitis vaccine.  We are talking about the worst form of meningitis in adults, which is Meningococcal meningitis.  Vaccines have been sought for many years to protect people from this disease. 

This is particularly true after the great success with vaccination against another form of meningitis in infants with the HIB vaccine.  Haemophilus Influnzae B used to be the most common cause of meningitis in children, and now happens in only 2 out of every 100,000 children.

Meningococcal meningitis is present in several forms (or serotypes) that are important to understanding the vaccine.  The current US vaccines protect against Type A, C, Y and W-135.  A fifth type, serotype B, is not included in the vaccine.  Vaccines that protect against B are still in development.  What does this mean for you?  We agree with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that all adolescents should be vaccinated before high school, and consider a booster dose of vaccine if they are going to college.  Additional doses are recommended for people with certain health conditions.

However, we must remember that even 100% vaccination is not going to prevent every case of meningitis.  In addition to getting the meningitis vaccine, we should all be practicing good hygiene by limiting contact with people when we have a fever, covering coughs and sneezes, avoid sharing things that can be contaminated with saliva (cups, cans, utensils, smokes of all kinds), and also seeking care for severe headache and fever.   These steps may not prevent all tragic outcomes, as this disease can be very aggressive, but should help. 

Another thought – consider getting your flu shot every fall.  A bout of respiratory infection, including influenza, may increase your risk of meningococcal infection.  For more meningitis information, you can visit our web site  and the CDC Meningitis web site.

Best of Health,

Roger Miller, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Ohio State campus meningitis update

After the tragic news of the death of an Ohio State University student last week from meningitis (infection around the brain and spinal cord caused by a virus or bacteria), we would like to share some information about this uncommon but dangerous disease. 

Meningitis causes headache, fever and rash.  Bacterial meningitis is the most dangerous form of this infection. Overall in the U.S., there is one case per 100,000 people each year. 

Many OSU students have been vaccinated against meningitis, but the vaccine is not 100% protective against all exposures to this disease.  If you are in close contact with a friend or family member with this disease, you should discuss your level of exposure with a health-care provider, and find out if preventive antibiotics are needed.  If you have symptoms (headache, stiff neck, high fever, rash) you should seek care even if you have had the vaccine. 

Without close contact, the risk of catching this infection from being in class or living in the same dorm is small. Those who are most likely to be affected include:

  • Household contacts, especially young children.
  • Anyone who had direct contact with the student’s oral secretions through kissing or sharing toothbrushes, drinking glasses, cigarettes or eating utensils, or by being coughed or sneezed on.
  • Anyone who frequently sleeps in the same room as the student, and had direct contact with the student during or just before their illness.

Protective antibiotic treatment should be given as soon as possible after an exposure, preferably within the first few days. In those situations, we would recommend that any student who feels they meet the above criteria for exposure report to Student Health Services, their private doctor’s office, or to an emergency room or urgent care center. The usual antibiotic treatment is a single dose of the antibiotic ciprofloxacin (500 mg). However, each person would need to be evaluated to determine the best treatment for them, which may include no treatment at all.

General questions about meningitis can be posted here as comments and we will respond, or you can contact Student Health Services at 614-292-4321. 

Roger Miller, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University

Do I have to get vaccinations to attend Ohio State?

Allergies, Injections, Immunizations

Q: Am I required to get vaccinations to attend The Ohio State University?

A: Yes.  The Ohio State University does have a vaccination requirement, effective Fall Semester 2015.  The requirement is made of up three (3) components:

  1. New to The Ohio State University – this component applies to those students who are:
    1. A new Ohio State University student – never before attended classes at Ohio State
    2. Attending the Columbus Campus
    3. Taking at least one (1) face-to-face class
    4. Attending half-time or greater
  2. New to Ohio State University Housing – this component applies to those students who are:
    1. An Ohio State University student
    2. New to University Housing on any Ohio State campus – never before lived in Ohio State University Housing
  3. New International Student – this component applies to those students who are:
    1. A new Ohio State University student – never before attended classes at Ohio State
    2. An international student

Based upon your student status, you may be responsible for 1 or more of the above components.

To find out more about the Vaccination Requirement at The Ohio State University, check out the following webpage:


Updated by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Possible meningitis exposures on OSU Campus

Possible meningitis exposure at Chabad at OSU/Sigma Alpha Mu party


A young man (not an Ohio State student) who attended a party at the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity house Saturday night (Feb. 27) has been admitted to a local hospital with a diagnosed case of bacterial meningitis.   This is a serious disease and is spread by close contact, especially anything that would transmit saliva—such as kissing and sharing a drinking glass or cigarette.


If you attended this party and shared utensils or drinks with others or were in very close contact with others, you may want to consult with a physician.  Ohio State students can call the Wilce Student Health Center at 614-292-4321 during our business hours for advice.  If you experience any of the following symptoms, it is very important that you seek medical attention immediately at an emergency care facility.


  •   Severe headache

  •   Sensitivity to light

  •   Stiff neck

  •   High fever

  •   Also nausea, vomiting and rash may occur


For privacy reasons, we cannot disclose the name of the ill individual, but if you were at the party and are concerned, we are happy to talk with you or meet with you.  Antibiotics can be prescribed as a preventive measure if you have reason to be concerned about a direct exposure.


Keeping you informed – BuckMD