In a follow-up to a report in late June, the Chicago Department of Public Health announced Thursday that another person has become sick with meningococcal disease. The latest case makes the 6th in Chicago and the 7th in Illinois since the outbreak among men who have sex with men (MSM) began in early June 2015. CDPH also announced that the majority of individuals who have been identified as having meningitis have been African American gay men.  Since identifying this outbreak in early June, CDPH has been investigating and closely monitoring each case and is directing efforts to the population impacted.

“Even though the number of cases is small, due to the severity of disease, we must continue our intensive, focused response,” said CDPH Commissioner Julie Morita, MD. “We know that vaccination is the best tool to end this outbreak and we continue to partner with local community advocates and healthcare providers to find and vaccinate our most vulnerable residents.”

Commissioner Morita convened a group of Aldermen from the LGBT and African American caucuses and members of the Health Committee today to provide updates on CDPH’s local response efforts including ongoing awareness and vaccination activities. Alderman Tom Tunney, LBGT Caucus Chairman has been a vocal supporter of the vaccination campaign and was vaccinated by Commissioner Morita to encourage others to get vaccinated before the Pride parade.

“We applaud CDPH’s ongoing efforts to stop the spread of meningitis,” said Alderman Will Burns, member of the African American caucus who attended this morning’s briefing. “We will continue to work with CDPH and community organizations to encourage residents to get vaccinated.”
Over the past month, CDPH has distributed 11,000 vaccines to community partners and provided 5,190 vaccines to residents directly.

Following the latest case in the outbreak, CDPH has also expanded vaccination locations and continues to administer vaccine at special events each weekend. A list of upcoming special events is below:

Date Location Hours
Friday, July 10, 2015 Family Guidance Center, 310 w. Chicago Ave (BCBS CareVan) 9:00am-1:00pm
Tuesday, July 14, 2015 New Age Services, 1330 S. Kostner (BCBS CareVan) 9:00am-1:00pm
Wednesday, July 15, 2015 North Lawndale ATC, 2839 W. Fillmore (BCBS CareVan) 9:00am-1:00pm
Saturday, July 18, 2015 Grand Lodge-FAM, 809 E. 43rd St. (BCBS CareVan) 10:00am-2:00pm
Tuesday, July 21, 2015 HRDI, 33 E. 114th St. (BCBS CareVan) 9:00am-1:00pm
Saturday, July 25, 2015 SGA Youth & Family Services, 3152 W. 47th St. (BCBS CareVan) 10:00am-2:00pm
Tuesday, July 28, 2015 Rincon Family Services, 3809 W. Grand Ave (BCBS CareVan) 9:00am-1:00pm
Wednesday, July 29, 2015 Pacific Garden Mission, 1458 S. Canal St. (BCBS CareVan) 9:00am-1:00pm

A complete list of all Chicago locations where vaccines are available for little or no cost are available on the new app,, as well as the CDPH website.

Individuals who are at risk should talk to their healthcare provider or a pharmacist about getting vaccinated. No cost vaccines are available at Walgreens for uninsured 14-55 year olds.  Vaccines are available for individuals of all ages who have insurance, but a co-pay may apply. If individuals do not have insurance that covers vaccine or a healthcare provider they can call 311 or click here for a list of vaccination locations.

Meningitis can cause symptoms including fever, headache and a stiff neck. Some people may experience nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light and altered mental status or confusion. If you experience these symptoms, please consult a medical provider immediately. The disease spreads through prolonged, close contact with saliva that can include intimate kissing, sexual contact, sharing drinks or sharing marijuana and cigarettes.

Meningitis symptoms/Public domain image/Mikael Häggström
Meningitis symptoms/Public domain image/Mikael Häggström