More than half of Princeton University's student body has received a meningitis vaccine not yet licensed in the United States.

As of Wednesday night, 4,361 vaccines had been administered, the university said.

The Ivy League school of nearly 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students has seen an outbreak of meningococcal disease -- which can be life-threatening if not treated -- since the spring. Eight cases were reported between March and November.

All eight cases have involved a strain of meningococcal disease known as type B. Vaccines in use in the United States don't protect against that strain.

The vaccine being given at Princeton is licensed for use in Australia and Europe, and the Food and Drug Administration is allowing its limited use at Princeton. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that all undergraduate students; graduate students living in dorms, the Graduate College or annexes; and staff with certain medical issues receive the vaccine.

Princeton began running the vaccine clinic on Monday. Today is the last day for the clinic, which will be open from noon to 8 p.m.

Meningitis spreads through close personal contact, like sharing food and utensils, or kissing. Outbreaks are most common at places like college campuses, where many people live in close quarters.

Symptoms of meningitis include fever, headaches, body aches, fatigue, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light.

Activities on campus are continuing as planned, Princeton says.

A second dose of the vaccine is necessary for maximum protection, and is expected to be available in February, the university said.

Contact Emily Babay at 215-854-2153 or ebabay@philly.com. Follow @emilybabay on Twitter.
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