Meningococcal disease, commonly called meningitis, can be very serious. It causes swelling of the lining around the brain and spinal cord or blood infection. It can get worse very fast, resulting in death within hours.
Even with immediate treatment, about 1 in 7 adolescents with the disease dies. About 20% of survivors have long-term disabilities, such as brain damage, loss of kidney function, hearing loss, or limb amputations.
Who Should Get the Meningitis Vaccine?
The meningitis vaccine is recommended for girls and boys ages 11-12 to protect against meningococcal disease.
Since protection can wear off after 5 years, a one-time booster shot is recommended at ages 16-18.
The meningococcal vaccination is required to attend many colleges.
What are the Symptoms?
Early symptoms are a lot like the cold or flu, so it's not always easy to know when someone has meningococcal disease. These include fever, headache and stiff neck as well as nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, rash, and confusion.
These symptoms can appear suddenly and get worse very quickly. It is crucial that medical care is received immediately.
If not treated within hours of the first symptoms, meningococcal disease can lead to shock, death or serious complications, including hearing loss, brain damage, kidney disease, or limb amputations.