The Student Health Center at BYU-Idaho will be giving a limited number of free meningitis vaccinations to students and faculty on Nov. 19 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Hyrum Manwaring Student Center.
Aubrey Seger, a registered nurse and senior studying nursing who is helping organize the meningitis clinic, said meningitis vaccinations usually cost about $150, but the clinic is offering the vaccine free for any BYU-I student.
Seger said The Student Health Center received a grant of free meningitis vaccines during Spring Semester 2013, but due to the low turnout of students there were vaccinations left over.
“The spring clinic was a sposed to be a one-time thing, but because of those leftovers, we are able to do another clinic this semester,” Seger said.
Seger said the clinic has a limited number of free vaccinations left from the grant, so this clinic might be the last free meningitis vaccination clinic at BYU-I.
“We only have about 81 vaccines left, so the clinic is a first-come, first-served basis,” Seger said.
Seger said her gro is hoping to give out all 81 vaccines during the clinic and raise awareness about meningitis.
“Meningitis can come in five forms, but the vaccine the clinic is offering is for bacterial meningitis, or Neisseria meningitidis, which is the most common form,” Seger said.
According to The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, meningitis is inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord and can be fatal if not treated.
Kayla Butler, a sophomore studying child development, said she’s never known what meningitis is or who it affects.
“College students are one of the highest at risk because meningitis is spread through throat and respiratory secretions,” Serger said.
She said examples of throat and respiratory secretions are kissing, sharing utensils or Chap Stick, and drinking out of the same c. College students share a lot of things, and this close contact is where meningitis is spread.
“Meningitis can’t be spread from a sneeze or a cough, but it is spread through close contact like kissing,” Serger said.
Tanner Clark, a freshman studying accounting, said he did not realize college students were at such high risk.
He said he thinks students need to be more careful about what they share.
According to the CDC, symptoms of meningitis include nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and an altered mental state. Meningitis can have serious complications, such as brain damage, hearing loss or learning disabilities.
Serger said when individuals come in contact with the meningitis bacteria, the symptoms often don’t show for three to seven days.
“Annually on college campuses, it is estimated that 100 to 125 cases of meningitis occur, so it’s quite the disease,” Serger said.
According to the CDC, meningitis is not very common, but individuals between the age of 16 and 21 are at higher risk of contracting it.
“I think a lot of students and individuals don’t know about meningitis because it’s not very common,” Serger said. “It’s a serious disease, just not as well-known as the common cold or flu, but it’s definitely something we need to think about.”