Nightly News   |  November 17, 2013

Princeton awaits meningitis vaccine approval

A meningitis outbreak has school officials looking to immunize students with a vaccine that’s legal abroad, but not in the U.S. NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren reports.

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>>> as a big decision is expected in the next day or so at princeton university whether to give thousands on?r that campus a vaccine not approved in this country but that could protect them against an outbreak of meningitis. we get the latest from kristen da dahlgren.

>> reporter: at princeton ai waiting game, many wondering if the university will approve a emergency vaccine for a potentially deadly meningitis outbreak.

>> the fact that thanksgiving break is scary, with all of the families coming to princeton .

>> reporter: meningitis kills 120 people in the u.s. every year and the b strain found at princeton isn't covered by vaccines approved in this country.

>> outbreak is b it doesn't make sense that this many children over a six month period have been infected.

>> reporter: the first princeton student was diagnosed in march after she returned from spring break . those who had come in contact with her were given prophylactic treatment. may 6th a student was taken to the hospital and diagnosed, may 20th another diagnosised after he traveled home. june 30th a student on an academic trip abroad was diagnosed and there have been two more cases since school resumed this fall, one october 3rd and the most recent november 10th . meningitis is spread by close personal contact, a quarter of the population could carry and spread the disease without getting sick themselves. symptoms vary but may include high fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea and sensitivity to light. bexsero the vaccine does prevent the b strain and used in europe since january and australia since august.

>> our approval process can be extremely rigorous but it's designed to protect the united states population against side effects that may not appear right after approval of a drug.

>> reporter: if approved the vaccine will only go to those on campus.

>> routine, everyday, going to the movies, the restaurant, it's not a concern.

>> reporter: so on campus tonight the wait continues for a decision that could come as soon as tomorrow. kristen dahlgren, nbc news, new york.