What’s Going On?
In April 2022 Florida reported a large ongoing outbreak of meningococcal disease (sometimes called Meningitis), primarily among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (G/B/MSM).
There is no meningitis outbreak in California or San Francisco, but with Pride and other upcoming events that gather and bring in people from across the country, the risk to Gay, Bisexual and other Men who have sex with men in our community may increase. Prior outbreaks of meningococcal disease among G/B/MSM occurred in Los Angeles and Orange County (in 2015-16), and San Francisco was able to protect our G/B/MSM at that time with vaccinations.
Meningococcal Disease: Rare But Very Serious
Meningococcal disease is a rare, but very serious illness caused by a type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis. Even if treated quickly, meningococcal disease can cause long-term problems and is often deadly. Read about the symptoms of meningococcol disease.
The best way to protect yourself if you are at risk is to get the MenACWY vaccine. You need a booster shot if it’s been more than 5 years since your last MenACWY vaccine.
Meningococcal Disease is Spread from Person to Person
The bacteria that cause meningococcal disease are spread by exchanging saliva or spit during close contact such as sharing drinks or smokes, kissing, or sexual activity. Fortunately, these bacteria are much harder to spread than viruses that cause the common cold or the flu and vaccines and boosters are available that help lower your risk.
How Can I Reduce My Risk of Getting Meningococcal Disease?
- Make sure you’re up to date on your MenACWY vaccine.
- Try to avoid crowded settings where there is close contact with many others.
- Avoid sharing saliva with others, for example do not share drinks or smokes.
Who is Recommended to Get MenACWY Vaccine?
- Gay, Bisexual, or other Men who have sex with men who:
- Plan to visit Florida;
- Plan to attend gatherings that may include G/B/MSM from around the country; or
- Have close or intimate contact with multiple partners or visit crowded places such as bars or parties.
Tell Me More About the MenACWY Vaccine
- The MenACWY vaccine protects against 4 types of meningitis bacteria: Types A, C, W and Y.
- There are 3 brands of MenACWY available: Menactra, Menveo and MenQuadFi and all 3 have been shown to be safe and effective.
- Protection is reached about 2 weeks after vaccination.
- G/B/MSM who do not have HIV infection need 1 dose of MenACWY vaccine. Those with HIV infection need 2 doses of MenACWY vaccine given 8-12 weeks apart.
- Protections fades after 5 years, so if you were vaccinated with MenACWY more than 5 years ago, you should get a booster dose.
Where Can I Get the MenACWY Vaccine in San Francisco?
- Check with your regular provider (if you have one) to see if they have the MenACWY vaccine available.
- Pharmacies often administer MenACWY vaccine and may be able to bill your health insurance for it.
- If you do not have a doctor, do not have insurance, or if your insurance will not cover the MenACWY vaccine, there are several locations around SF you can receive one from. Free or low-cost vaccine options are available for those that qualify.
San Francisco City Clinic
356 7th Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Magnet Clinic at Strut
470 Castro Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
AITC Immunization & Travel Clinic
101 Grove Street, Room 102
San Francisco, CA 94102
For more information:
Meningococcal in other populations: Meningococcal Disease – Disease Prevention and Control, San Francisco Department of Public Health (sfcdcp.org)