As a parent, you would do anything to protect your child. When your children are young, you make sure they are vaccinated to protect them from diseases such as small pox and hepatitis. However, as they age, there is another potentially dangerous disease that can be prevented with a vaccination: meningococcal disease.
What is meningococcal disease?
Meningococcal disease is an illness that is caused by bacteria living in the nose and throat, resulting in severe flu-like symptoms. While many people can live with this bacteria in their body and never get sick, the presence of the bacteria precedes serious diseases, such as meningococcemia (which affects the blood stream) and meningitis (which affects the spinal cord).
Symptoms of this disease can most accurately be described as flu-like. They include things such as nausea, vomiting, fever and muscle aches. However, more severe symptoms include a stiff neck, along with a headache and sensitivity to light. This particular symptom can be a sign of meningitis and should never be ignored. Even when meningococcal disease is properly treated, it will kill 10 to 15 out of 100 infected people.
Who is affected by meningococcal disease?
This disease is common in very young infants, teens, young adults, and the elderly (over age 65). While all of these age groups are at risk, a recent study by the AAP revealed that college students living in dorms (ages 18-24) are at an even greater risk because of their close proximity to one another. While the reported incidence is low, the disease is very dangerous and potentially fatal, so it is highly recommended all children receive the vaccine.
How can I protect my child?
The best form of protection is vaccination. The serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) vaccine helps protect against meningococcal disease caused by serogroup B only, while the meningococcal ACWY vaccine protects against disease caused by serogroups A, C, W, and Y. Teens as young as age 16 can get vaccinated, so there is no need to wait until after high school. It is important to get your child vaccinated, whether they plan on attending college or going a different route as the disease is a risk for all.
To get more information about how you can protect your child with the MenB and meningococcal ACWY vaccinations, contact us today.