What is MenB and why are students at a higher risk of getting it?
Meningococcal Meningitis (MenB) is an infection spread by direct contact with secretions from the nose and mouth of an infected person. The infection can be in the blood (meningococcemia) or in the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis).
Unlike COVID-19, MenB does not spread through the air or casual contact. The bacteria that can cause bacterial meningitis are spread by direct secretions (saliva or spit) from the nose and mouth, through activities such as kissing, sharing food, drinks, water bottles, toothbrushes, eating utensils, cigarettes and other smoking products/devices.
While anyone can get bacterial meningitis, younger populations and students are often more susceptible due to communal living arrangements like university residences and shared housing, and behaviours and activities that result in the sharing of personal items.
Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent MenB.
Meningitis B immunizations are not usually funded in most provinces or countries, including Nova Scotia, meaning it is not included in your routine childhood vaccine series. In most cases, childhood vaccinations would have included a meningitis vaccine that protected against MenACWY, but not MenB.
- As part of efforts to increase vaccination rates for higher risk groups, funding for Meningitis B vaccinations was made available this past spring for students from Nova Scotia 25 years of age and younger who will be living in residence for the first time.
- Two doses of the vaccination are required, approximately 4 weeks apart.
How to get the MenB vaccine
For students from Nova Scotia, aged 25 and younger, who will be living in residence for the first time
Use the CanImmunize booking portal to book your appointment(s) at various pharmacies throughout Nova Scotia. When you go to your appointment, remember to bring proof that shows you are eligible for the provincially-funded vaccine. For example, if you’re moving into residence, bring a letter that shows you were accepted into residence.
For students living in Halifax who do not qualify for the provincially-funded vaccine above
- Call Dalhousie Student Health & Wellness at 902-494-2171 and state that you’d like to receive the Men B vaccine.
- For students with the DSU Health & Dental Plan, the Student Health & Wellness Centre will send a prescription to Direct 2 U Pharmacy (North End Pharmacy) on your behalf.
- The pharmacy will call you to arrange for your co-pay amount ($24.45 per dose/total $48.90 for you to pay via credit card over the phone or in-person at North End Pharmacy). The DSU Health & Dental insurance covers the remaining cost (80% coverage) and that is billed directly to your insurance.
- The pharmacy will send the vaccine to the Student Health & Wellness Centre, and an appointment will be booked with you for a nurse to administer each dose.
- When the vaccine is delivered, the Student Health & Wellness Centre will contact you to come in for your vaccination.
If students have private health coverage or would like to receive the vaccine at another pharmacy or other location:
- Instead of using Direct 2 U, Student Health & Wellness can send the prescription on the student’s behalf to the pharmacy of their choice, for personal pick up.
- If administering on campus, the doses can be brought to the vaccination appointment on the day-of, or stored at Student Health & Wellness in advance of the appointment.
- Nurses can administer these doses at the Student Health & Wellness with no injection fee, or a pharmacy can administer the dose with an injection fee (varies by pharmacy).
- Students will pay $66.45 per dose out of pocket (total $132.90), the DSU Health & Dental Plan covers the remaining cost (50% coverage). Students who have opted out of the DSU Health & Dental Plan will need to contact their insurance provider for coverage information.
- Students can opt to get vaccinated at their pharmacy or they can book with a nurse at Student Health & Wellness.
For all students attending the Agricultural Campus in Truro
Health Services can provide the MenB vaccine to both Nova Scotian students who do qualify for the provincially funded vacine AND to those who do not qualify for the provincially funded vaccine.
- Call 902-893-6300 or email email@example.com to make an appointment with Health Services
- A nurse will complete an assessment, have a conversation to answer any questions you may have, and will quickly walk you through the next steps to obtain the vaccine based on your insurance coverage (DSU or home private health insurance).
Students from Nova Scotia
Anyone with a Nova Scotia health card can now access their vaccine records through VaxRecordNS.
Students from outside of Nova Scotia
Please contact your primary healthcare provider or your local public health unit. Canadian students can find more information for their specific public health units here.
How can MenB be prevented?
- Stay up to date with vaccines! Dalhousie and King’s students can explore their vaccine options on this page.
- Follow cough and sneeze etiquette and practice good hand hygiene.
- Reduce contact with secretions from other people’s nose and mouth like coughing, kissing, sharing utensils or cups, or sharing cigarettes, joints and vapes.
What are the symptoms of MenB?
- Change in alertness (being confused)
- Stiff neck
- Sensitivity to light
- A red/purple rash or spots that spread quickly and do not disappear when pressed
What to do if you think you have MenB:
Early diagnosis and treatment are important because complications can be severe. If symptoms occur, contact your healthcare provider, call 811, or visit the nearest emergency room immediately.
It is important to know that MenB is not spread by talking to, being in the same room with, or breathing the air from the same room as a diagnosed person.
If you have been in close contact with a person who has meningitis, Public Health will contact you – please follow their advice, monitor for symptoms, and seek care if they develop.