Information about Meningococcal Disease and Vaccination
Waiver for Students at Residential Schools and Colleges
Revised legislation in Massachusetts now requires all newly enrolled full-time students attending a secondary school (e.g.,
boarding schools) or postsecondary institution (e.g., colleges) who will be living in a dormitory or other congregate
housing licensed or approved by the secondary school or institution to:
1. receive meningococcal vaccine; or
2. fall within one of the exemptions in the law, which are discussed on the reverse side of this sheet.
The law provides an exemption for students signing a waiver that reviews the dangers of meningococcal disease and
indicates that the vaccination has been declined. To qualify for this exemption, you are required to review the information
below and sign the waiver at the end of this document. Please note, if a student is under 18 years of age, a parent or legal
guardian must be given a copy of this document and must sign the waiver.
What is meningococcal disease?
Meningococcal disease is caused by infection with bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis. These bacteria can infect the
tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord called the “meninges” and cause meningitis, or they can infect the blood or
other body organs. In the US, about 1,000-3,000 people get meningococcal disease each year and 10-15% die despite
receiving antibiotic treatment. Of those who live, another 11-19% lose their arms or legs, become deaf, have problems
with their nervous systems, become mentally retarded, or suffer seizures or strokes.
How is meningococcal disease spread?
These bacteria are passed from person-to-person through saliva (spit). You must be in close contact with an infected
person’s saliva in order for the bacteria to spread. Close contact includes activities such as kissing, sharing water bottles,
sharing eating/drinking utensils or sharing cigarettes with someone who is infected; or being within 3-6 feet of someone