Princeton Meningitis Vaccine, Not Licensed in US, to Be Administered

Wednesday, 27 Nov 2013 01:23 PM

By Robin Farmer

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Princeton University students will soon receive a meningitis vaccine not yet licensed for use in the U.S. to combat a rare strain of the illness that has struck eight people since March.

Meningitis comes in two forms: bacterial and viral. The bacterial form is rare in the United States, and the group B bacterial strains are even more so. The cases found at Princeton were caused by serotype B, CNN reported.

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The Ivy League school with nearly 6,000 students received a recommendation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to begin administering the vaccine next month to all undergraduate and graduate students residing in dorms as well as employees with certain medical conditions.

The CDC's Institutional Review Board approved the measure Tuesday afternoon, spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds told CNN.

The Food and Drug Administration is allowing Princeton to use the drug, called Bexsero and made by Novartis. It is approved in Europe and Austraila.

The CDC said two doses of the vaccine are required for the best protection. The first dose of the vaccine will be made available on campus Dec. 9 through 12 and the second dose in February.

Meningitis can spread through coughing, kissing, sharing drinks, and living in close quarters, such as in dorms. Symptoms can include headache, stiff neck, headache, fever, vomiting, rashes, and confusion. Untreated, the disease can lead to complications such as brain damage and death.

The eighth case of meningitis at the school was reported on Friday.

Several students told CNN that they and their peers are not overly concerned about getting meningitis, but it’s on their minds.

"I think students do know that it is an important and fatal issue that is spreading on campus — and each student individually decides to what degree to protect themselves," Stephen Cognetta, a junior, told CNN in an email.

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