New NJ Meningitis Law
The NJ Meningitis Law requires that specific groups of students must receive the meningitis vaccine before they can move into campus housing.
This Law applies to you if you will reside in campus housing AND you are a commuter student age 19 or younger:
- new freshman
- new readmit
- new transfer
- continuing student who is returning to campus housing
- Arrange with your healthcare provider to receive the meningitis vaccine.*
- Submit proof of vaccination.
- Spring Deadline: Proof of vaccination must be received by January 15
- Fall Deadline: Proof of vaccination must be received by July 1
- Send to:
Ramapo College of NJ, Health Services, 505 Ramapo Valley Road, Mahwah, NJ 07430-1680
In the near future you will also receive information about other required immunizations: Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Tuberculosis. To ensure your campus housing we strongly recommend that you submit proof of all required vaccines at the same time, under one cover, and prior to the meningitis deadline.
Meningococcal disease is a rare but potentially fatal bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis. This bacteria is the major cause of bacterial meningitis among all age groups and it is the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in older children and young adults in the United States.
Meningococcal meningitis strikes about 2,800 Americans each year leading to death in approximately 10-15% of cases or 300 deaths annually, despite the availability of effective antibiotics.
The most common symptoms of meningococcal disease include high fever, headaches, neck stiffness, confusion, nausea, vomiting, lethargy and rashes to the body. In some cases the bacteria causes an inflammation to the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, a condition called meningococcal meningitis or bacterial meningitis. In some cases the bacteria invades only the bloodstream causing a condition called meningococcemia. If not treated or not treated promptly, this condition progresses rapidly, often within hours of symptom onset and results in death.
The occurrence of meningococcal disease in the United States usually peaks in the late winter and early spring. The organism is spread from person-to-person through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions such as by coughing and kissing.
Although meningococcal disease can affect people at any age, certain groups are at increased risk. Children under age 4 years old have the greatest risk. However, in recent years, there has been an increase in the rate of occurrence of meningococcal disease in the 15-24 year age group, including college-aged students. Research suggests that the lifestyle behaviors of college students increase their risk. These behaviors include active or passive smoking, bar patronage and excessive alcohol consumption.
Dormitory-style living may also contribute as crowded environments facilitate the spread of the infection. It is estimated that 125-175 cases of meningococcal disease occur annually on college campuses and 15-20 students dies each year as a result.
It is recommended that college students consider vaccination with Meningitis A/C/Y/W vaccine to reduce their risk for potentially fatal meningococcal disease.
It is the recommendation of the American College Health Association and the Center for Disease Control that the following should be vaccinated pre-exposure:
- Entering college students who elect to decrease their risk for meningococcal disease.
- Students 30 years or age or under who request vaccination in order to decrease the risk for disease and are not pregnant. The highest priority should be for students 18-24 years of age as students older that 25 years of age have a much lower risk of disease.
- Students with medical conditions that compromise immunity (e.g., HIV, absent spleen, antibody deficiency, chemotherapy.)
- Students traveling to areas of the world with endemic meningococcal disease.
The vaccine has been shown to provide protection against the most common strains of the disease. The vaccine is very safe and adverse reactions are mild and infrequent, consisting primarily of redness and pain at the site of injection, which lasts up to two (2) days. The duration of the meningococcal vaccine’s efficacy is approximately 3-5 years so a booster is recommended.
If you have further questions regarding this disease or if you are unsure if you meet the criteria to receive this vaccination, please contact your primary care provider. The staff of Health Services is also available to answer any questions you may have. Our phone number is (201) 684-7536.