As your child grows up and reaches their teen years, it is important that you take him or her to receive the meningitis vaccine along with any additional follow-ups. While meningitis is a condition that has significantly waned in recent years, it has not been completely eliminated, and the application of vaccines prevents it from emerging more strongly and becoming a public health threat.
Learn more about meningitis and why vaccines are important.
Before learning about the importance of these vaccines, it’s vital to know more about the condition itself. Meningitis is an infection of the tissue lining the brain or spinal cord. Teenagers and young adults are more at risk for the disease, but both adults and young children can develop it as well. Symptoms in teens and adults include fever and headaches, while children have irritability and flu-like symptoms.
What Is Meningococcal Disease?
Meningococcal disease is a rare condition that teens are most vulnerable to. This disease causes bacterial meningitis, which is a dangerous, life-threatening version of meningitis.
Today, meningococcal disease is the leading cause of meningitis, and there are two primary vaccines that can prevent it.
There are two main vaccines dedicated to preventing bacterial meningitis:
- Meningococcal conjugate vaccines (MCV4). Doctors urge that children between 11 and 12 years old receive this vaccine, with an additional booster at 16. The vaccines are available as Menactra or Menveo. Children between two months and 10 years old should receive it if they take Soliris, have complement component deficiency, have a higher risk of meningococcal disease, lack a functioning spleen, or have HIV.
- Serogroup B meningococcal vaccines. It is recommended by some colleges but not required. Teenagers between 16 and 18 years old may receive this vaccine. In addition, preteens and teens who are immunosuppressed, have complement component deficiency, lack or have a damaged spleen, or are at increased risk of serogroup B meningococcal disease. This vaccine is available as Trumenba or Bexsero.
If MCV4 is not available, your child can also receive a meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (MPSV4). This is also the only meningitis vaccine approved for people 55 and older. This vaccine is sold as Menomune.
Now that you understand a bit more about the seriousness of meningitis, and the life-altering effect it can have on your child, it should be clear that neglecting to have your child vaccinated is not worth the risk.