News release from the Wilson County Health Department
Fredonia, Kans.— Summer is almost here, and parents should think about getting theirchildren ages 11-21 immunized against meningococcal (pronounced (muh-nin-jo-cok-ul) meningitis, especially before going to camp.
ToddDurham, Health Department Administrator, says, "We suggest that parents followCDC advice for a meningococcal shot at age 11 or 12years, with a booster dose at 16. It is a good idea for children going tosummer camp to get vaccinated now, if they haven't already done so."
All preteens and teens are at higher risk ofgetting a bacterial meningitis infection, especially collegefreshman living in dorms. Many colleges now require that students be vaccinatedbefore enrollment. However, younger teens at summer camp, (including dayprograms such as sports camps) are also at risk.
"Althoughthis disease is not extremely common, it is very deadly", continues Durham. "A shot may cause some children to have a sorearm for a little while, but not being vaccinated can have a heartbreakingoutcome. "
About1,000-1,200 people get meningococcal disease each year in the US. Up to 15% of these will die. 11-19% of those who live will have life-long disabilities such as amputated arms or legs,deafness, brain damage, seizures or strokes. Even healthy youngsters can get verysick. They may die within only a few hours of the first sign of illness.
Thisdisease is less contagious than the common cold (which is spread through casual contact). However, it is spreadthrough saliva (sharing drinks and/or kissing) and through close, prolonged generalcontact with an infected person, (such as sharing living quarters at camp or ina dorm.)
"It isterrible to think of a family having to cope with the unexpected death ordisability of their child," concludes Durham. "We are glad that with this disease, parents can help protect their lovedones"
The Health Department offers a drop in clinicfrom 8-11:30 & 1:30 -4:30 every Monday at 421 N. 7th Street inFredonia. In Neodesha, a clinic is held on the second Tuesday of every month;from 3-5:30 pm. Parents can call the Health Department to make an appointmentfor other times.
Visit "Meningitis Angels" a non-profit website with real-life stories @ http://www.meningitis-angels.org/ , go to http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/mening/default.htm, or call the Health Department at 620-378-4455for more information about this disease.
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