Wisconsin meningitis vaccine mandate for students receives mixed reactions on social media

In May, Wisconsin health officials reinstituted a meningitis vaccine requirement for students entering 7th grade and a booster for students entering 12th grade. The requirement will take effect in the 2024-25 school year. In response to recent news articles about the vaccine requirement, some social media users are expressing gratitude for a measure that will keep their communities “safe and healthy,” while others are falsely claiming that vaccines are unsafe and that immigrants are responsible for outbreaks of infectious diseases.

Recommendation: These false claims may undermine patients’ perception of the seriousness of meningitis and the safety of vaccines that protect against the disease. When responding to patient questions about the cause of meningitis outbreaks, talking points may emphasize that experts attribute infectious disease outbreaks to low vaccination rates, which jeopardize herd immunity. Additional messaging may emphasize that meningococcal meningitis is a serious bacterial infection in the brain and spinal cord that can cause severe symptoms, long-term disabilities, and death. Meningococcal vaccines are our best protection against meningococcal meningitis, and adverse effects from these vaccines are rare. The CDC recommends the MenACWY vaccine for preteens between 11 and 12 years old, with a booster dose at 16 years old, and for children and adults who are at an increased risk for meningococcal disease. The CDC recommends the MenB vaccine for people 10 years and older who are at an increased risk for meningococcal disease. The MenABCWY vaccine is an option for people 10 years and older who are getting the MenACWY and MenB vaccines at the same time.