Health Department Recommends Vaccination for Hiv-Positive Men at High Risk of Meningitis

Free vaccinations available beginning Friday, October 5 for people who cannot get vaccine from their health care provider. The New York City Health Department issued recommendations today for vaccinating against invasive meningococcal disease – commonly known as meningitis – after a spike of cases reported over the past five weeks. Vaccine is available at medical facilities throughout the city for men who meet these criteria but who cannot obtain it from their HIV care providers.

The Department is advising vaccinations for any man who is HIV positive and has had intimate contact with another man that he met through a website, digital application (“App”), or at a bar or party since September 1, 2012. The outbreak of invasive meningococcal disease among HIV-positive men in New York City is completely unrelated to the outbreak of meningitis in several states that is caused by a contaminated medication.

Vaccination prevents but does not treat current infection. Common symptoms of meningitis are high fever, headache, stiff neck, and rash that develop rapidly upon onset. Symptoms may occur 2 to 10 days after exposure, but usually within 5 days. People who are HIV-positive and who experience these symptoms should seek medical care immediately.

Because the vaccine is best given in the context of regular medical care for HIV infection, people should first check with the medical care provider that treats them for HIV infection to ask if they have the vaccine. If the medical provider does not have the vaccine, people should visit one of the HIV clinics in select New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation sites listed below. New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation clinics will waive their co-pay requirements for two months for people who have insurance. The Health Department’s clinics will also be able to administer the vaccine for those people who cannot obtain vaccine from their medical providers or a New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation clinic. Locations are listed here. Individuals who meet some, but not all, of the criteria are advised to discuss their need for vaccination with their medical provider.

Read the Health Department press release