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Meningococcal Meningitis

Per RCW 28A.210.080, schools in Washington are required to provide information on meningococcal disease to parents or guardians of all students in grades 6-12.

Five Facts about Meningococcal Disease and Prevention 

  1. Meningococcal disease is rare, but it can be deadly, leading to death in approximately 10 percent of cases (Washington State Department of Health, 2018).
  2. Among those who survive, as many as 25 percent have chronic damage to the nervous system (WA State DoH, 2018). 
  3. Adolescents and young adults are among those at greatest risk for meningococcal disease (Centers for Disease Control, 2017).
  4. Meningococcal disease is spread by direct contact with infected people by coughing, kissing or sharing anything by mouth, like utensils or toothbrushes (WA State DoH, 2018). 
  5. Health officials recommend routine vaccination against four of five major meningococcal disease serogroups (A, C, W and Y) at 11-12 with a booster at age 16. Young adults between 16 and 23 years old should also ask a healthcare provider about vaccination against serogroup B. (National Meningitis Association, 2018)

Adolescents and young adults are most likely to get meningococcal disease, especially those living in group settings such as college dorms. Several college campuses have reported outbreaks of serogroup B meningococcal disease during the last several years (CDC, 2017).

The Department of Health wants you to be aware of meningococcal disease and how you can protect your child against it. A 2-dose vaccine is available that can prevent up to 65 percent of meningococcal disease among adolescents and young adults. The vaccine is recommended for all healthy adolescents 11-18 years of age.  If the first dose is given between 13 and 15 years of age, the booster should be given between 16 and 18. If the first dose was given after the 16th birthday, a second dose is not needed unless they become at increased risk for the disease. The meningococcal vaccine is not required for school or 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.

We encourage you to learn more about meningococcal disease and how to prevent it. More information on meningococcal disease is available on the following web sites: