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Why it is Important to Vaccinate Against Meningitis

by tylercook on October 30, 2012

Meningitis is a deadly disease that kills around eleven percent of those that contracts it.  Certain groups, mainly college students staying in dorm rooms, are at higher risk to contract meningitis than other groups, partially because of the close living conditions.  Thus, to prevent needless deaths and discomfort, it is very important to get meningitis vaccinations.

What Is Meningitis?

Surrounding the brain and spinal cord are membranes, called the meninges. If these membranes become inflamed, the condition is known as meningitis. There are two different types of meningitis; viral and bacterial.

Of the two types of meningitis, viral meningitis is much less severe, and those with normal immune systems often recover completely from it.  Bacterial meningitis, on the other hand, is much more severe, and could possibly lead to the death of the individual.  Unfortunately, it can be difficult to determine initially whether a person has been infected with the viral or bacterial form of the disease, as they display similar symptoms.

The general symptoms of meningitis include:

  • High fever
  • Extremely bad headaches
  • Stiff neck
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty waking up
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Loss of appetite
  • Skin rash, usually in the case of viral meningitis

Of those that survive bacterial meningitis, around twenty percent have aftereffects. The aftereffects are permanent and sometimes debilitating, and can include such conditions as brain damage, the need for limb amputation, or hearing loss.

Who Should Get Vaccinated?

Ideally, everyone should get vaccinated against meningitis. In the United States, initial vaccinations against meningitis are included in a child’s routine shots. However, these vaccinations do not completely protect the child throughout their entire lives.

The Center for Disease Control, or CDC, recommends that all children between the ages of 11 and 16 receive two booster shots to help combat the disease.

Certain people and groups are more at risk of contracting meningitis than others.  These groups include:

  • Infants
  • College students living in dorms
  • Lab personnel
  • US Military Recruits
  • World travelers, especially those travelling to countries with a high incidence of meningitis
  • Those with a damaged spleen
  • Those with immune disorders
  • Those exposed to others with meningitis

Individuals in one of the aforementioned risk groups should definitely consider getting vaccinated for meningitis, and should make sure that they are up to date on their boosters.  The CDC has been concentrating efforts of late to spread the word to college students that they should get vaccinated.  Part of the reason for this is that, after the required rounds of vaccinations when a child is younger, parents rarely think to have their children 11 or older vaccinated.

Who Shouldn’t Get Vaccinated?

Despite the fact that vaccination is a good idea, there are certain individuals who should either wait to receive their vaccinations, or who shouldn’t get vaccinated at all.  In most cases, the vaccinations can be given at the same time as other vaccinations, though this is not true of children with sickle cell disease or without a working spleen.

Those who have had severe allergic reactions in the past to the vaccine should not get vaccinated. Pregnant women also shouldn’t be vaccinated.  If you are currently ill, you should likely wait for vaccination.

 

Katie Wilkes is a medical blogger with a keen interest in current medical cases. If you believe that you have been affected by the meningitis outbreak, seek advice from a certified personal injury lawyer on your legal rights.

tylercook

tylercook

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