Meningitis vaccine recommended for pre-teens, college freshman

Meningitis vaccine recommended for pre-teens, college freshman A state health official reminds parents to add meningitis immunizations to their list of things to do for back-to-school. â�?�?This disease progresses very quickly and it can be fatal. Thatâ�?�?s why itâ�?�?s so important that those at risk get immunized,â�? said Dr. Lon Kightlinger, State Epidemiologist for the Department of Health. Meningitis vaccination is routinely recommended for kids ages 11-12. Dr. Kightlinger said college freshmen living in dorms and unvaccinated high school freshmen are among those at highest risk for meningococcal disease and should also be vaccinated. Vaccination is also recommended for kids ages 2 through10 years who are at increased risk for meningococcal disease â�?�? those traveling to or residing in countries where the disease is epidemic and those with immune deficiencies.�? �?  Meningococcal disease is an inflammation of the tissues covering the brain and spinal cord that is caused by infection with bacteria. Symptoms can include fever, severe headache, stiff neck, vomiting and a rash. Prompt treatment is important to prevent disability and death. Ten to 14 percent of people with meningococcal disease die, and among survivors, up to 19 percent may suffer long-term permanent disabilities including hearing loss, limb amputation or brain disease. Meningococcal disease strikes up to 2,800 Americans each year, killing 300. Since 1997, South Dakota has had an average of four cases per year. In 2007, South Dakota reported three cases of invasive meningococcal disease, two in college age students. To date in 2008, there has been one case reported. Students should check with their family health care provider or student health center to receive the vaccine.�? The vaccine is routinely recommended for all children 11-12 years of age, unvaccinated children at entry to high school (age 15 years) and all college freshmen living in a dormitory.�? The department provides the vaccine for children 11-18 years of age who are eligible for the federal Vaccines for Children Program which covers children who are Medicaid eligible, Native American or Alaskan Native, uninsured or underinsured.�? There is no charge for the vaccine for these children but providers may charge a small administration fee.�? To find a childhood vaccine provider in your area, see the Web at http://doh.sd.gov/LocalOffices/Vaccine.aspx. See the department Web site at http://doh.sd.gov/DiseaseFacts/Meningitis.aspx to learn more about meningitis.

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