Health officials plan to evaluate the effectiveness of a new vaccine for bacterial meningitis given en masse to Providence College students. Researchers will collect throat swabs from some of the thousands of students vaccinated over the next few months.
After two students at Providence College came down with meningitis, health officials rushed to vaccinate more than 3500 students to contain a potential outbreak. So far, no new cases have cropped up.
But the Rhode Island Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention want to know whether the vaccine has actually reduced the presence of the meningococcal bacteria in students’ throats and noses. The bacteria are present in a small percentage of the population without ever causing a problem, but it can sometimes make people sick.
What’s more, the vaccine for this particular strain of the disease is relatively new. So the evaluation will add to researchers’ understanding of how well it works in a college setting.