Meningococcal Meningitis

  • As of July 2005, schools in Washington are required to provide information on meningococcal disease to parents or guardians of all students entering grades 6-12.

    Meningococcal disease is a serious infection of the brain (meningitis) and blood caused by bacteria. Fortunately, this life-threatening infection is rare as only about 75 people are infected each year in Washington. Adolescents and young adults are most likely to get meningococcal disease, especially those living in group settings such as college dorms.

    The Department of Health wants you to be aware of meningococcal disease and how you can protect your child against it. A vaccine is available that can prevent up to 65 percent of meningococcal disease among adolescents and young adults. The vaccine is recommended for all children 11-12 years. It is also recommended for unvaccinated teens age 15 and college freshmen who will be living in a dorm. The meningococcal vaccine is required in certain states for college attendance.

    Here are some other ways to prevent the spread of meningococcal disease:

    • Practice good hygiene (regular hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, etc.)
    • Do not share items that may spread meningococcal disease and other bacteria and viruses, such as eating utensils, glasses, cups, water bottles, drinks, lip-gloss or toothbrushes.