One evening a child has a high fever, a severe headache, and a stiff neck. It might be just the flu — or it might be meningococcal meningitis. This devastating disease, though still uncommon, has been striking more often throughout the last decade.
The child might be dead within hours. Those that survive meningococcal meningitis are often left with neurologic disabilities, hearing loss, and/or loss of a limb. Those between the ages of 15 and 24 are particularly at risk for this ravaging disease, especially those who live in close quarters as do college freshmen living in dormitories.
In December 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) joined with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Meningitis Foundation of America in recommending that doctors alert all families with a child heading off to college about the availability of a safe and effective vaccine.
Rather than waiting for your doctor to bring it up, ask about the vaccine at your next visit. While some vaccines target other types of meningitis (pneumococcal, Hib), Menomune, the meningococcal vaccine, can prevent meningococcal meningitis. It’s a vaccine I want my children to have.