On March 25, 2013, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) expanded a recommendation issued earlier in March by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYCDOHMH) regarding meningococcal vaccinations for men who have sex with men (MSM). These meningococcal vaccine recommendations have been issued in response to an outbreak of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) in New York City.
Meningococcal disease is a severe bacterial infection of the bloodstream. Common symptoms include high fever, headache, vomiting, stiff neck, and a rash. Symptoms may occur two to 10 days after exposure, but usually within five days. Since 2010, 22 men residing in NYC and one man who resides outside the City, but spent significant time there, have become ill in this outbreak, seven have died.
The recommendation by DOH has been expanded to include MSM residing outside NYC who have traveled to the city and engaged in the risk behaviors described below since September 1, 2012.
The following groups were identified by NYCDOHMH as being at highest risk of IMD and are being advised to obtain a quadravalent meningococcal vaccination:
• All HIV-infected MSM
• MSM, regardless of HIV status, who regularly have close or intimate sexual contact with men met through an online website, digital application (“app”) or at a bar or party. (Previously, meningococcal vaccination was recommended only for those with contact in certain high risk areas in New York City.)
More information about the meningococcal disease outbreak among at-risk men is available here. Contact your health care provider or local department of health if you need to be vaccinated.