Comforter, shower caddy, new backpack, meningitis vaccine — these are just some of the essentials a college-bound kid needs. About that last one? It’s on the list because of a recent update to the vaccination schedules recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

Meningitis is the inflammation of the membranes, known as meninges, that cover the brain and spinal cord. It can be caused by a virus or bacteria. Bacterial meningitis can be deadly and requires immediate medical treatment.

The ACIP is now advising young people ages 16 to 23 get the meningococcal serotype B, or MenB, vaccine. It protects against the Neisseria meningitides B bacteria, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says is responsible for a third of the cases of meningitis in the United States.

Moving into a college dorm — or military barracks, for those enlisting in the armed forces — puts kids at an increased risk of infection. Kids in boarding school also face higher risk.

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MenB also is recommended for people over age 10 who are at increased risk of meningococcal infections, such as those with sickle cell anemia or a condition that lowers their immune response.

According to the CDC, there are two versions of the vaccine: Bexsero, which is given in two doses one month apart, and Trumenba, which is given in three doses.

Symptoms of bacterial meningitis

According to the CDC, meningitis may present with the sudden onset of fever, headache and stiff neck. Other symptoms may include:

  • confusion
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • sensitivity to bright light
  • extreme sleepiness
  • rash made up of tiny, purplish-red bumps anywhere on the body
  • seizures (a later symptom)

Anyone who develops these symptoms should get medical help right away. If not treated swiftly with antiobiotics, meningitis can cause permanent brain damage or even death within days, warns the Mayo Clinic. In some cases, meningitis can be fatal within hours, according to the Meningitis Research Foundation.

Related: Adults Need the Whooping Cough Vaccine, Too

What else goes on the college vaccination list?

MenB may be the newest vaccination recommended for college-age kids and young adults, but it's not the only one. (part of the Department of Health and Human Services) recommends several others for people between 19 and 24.

MenACWY, a cousin of MenB that protects against bacterial types of meningitis other than serotype B. Colleges sometimes require incoming students to have this vaccine.

Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough. Most kids get a Tdap shot at age 11 or 12. People 19 and over who didn't should get one.

HPV vaccine, for teens and young adults who did not start or finish the HPV vaccine series at age 11 or 12 years. The HPV shot provides protection against the human papilloma virus, which can cause a variety of cancers of reproductive organs as well as throat cancer.

Seasonal flu vaccine, which should be repeated each new flu season.

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