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Where Can I Get A Meningitis Immunization Vaccine?

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By Johnny Bevers

It is important that you and your family are vaccinated against meningitis as this disease can be life-threatening – we’ll show you where to go and explain meningitis symptoms in a nutshell.  In addition, it is somewhat contagious and treatment is not always effective even if the disease is caught early enough.

What Is Meningitis?

meningitis baby photo with symptomsMeningitis is a potentially life-threatening disease that causes inflammation of the meninges, which are the membranes that surround the brain and spinal column.  There are two types of Meningitis: viral, or aseptic, meningitis and bacterial meningitis.  The most common form of meningitis is viral meningitis. Fortunately, viral meningitis only very rarely causes serious complications or death.  It occurs mainly in children under five who usually make a full recovery. Bacterial meningitis is a much more serious form of the disease, especially for the young and the elderly.  In certain cases it can cause damage to the nerves or to the brain and even death.

Common Locations To Take Your Vaccine

meningitis vaccine in the boxDepending on your location, there are many different places where you can go to get a bacterial meningitis vaccine.  These places include health clinics such as those at Walgreens or Costco, the public health department or private doctor’s offices.  In addition, meningitis vaccines may be offered at community centers such as places of worship, universities and so on.  Ask your doctor for advice.  You may also find this vaccine finder on vaccines.gov useful.  The vaccine will cost you somewhere between 100 dollars and 150 dollars depending on the location.

Why You Should Get The Bacterial Meningitis Vaccine

meningitis vaccine in syringeQuite simply, you should get the vaccine for you and your family because the bacterial meningitis vaccine could save your life or the life of someone close to you.  Bacterial meningitis is an extremely serious disease that often kills.  Even with proper treatment, many people do not make it. In addition, even if you do not die after you have contacted this disease, you may suffer the effects of this disease for the rest of your life. Some of the possible effects include nerve damage and brain damage.  So this is obviously not a disease to be taken lightly.

What Are The Symptoms Of Meningitis?

The symptoms of meningitis differ from person to person as does the amount of time they experience these symptoms. Some will experience merely a mild fever, a headache and a feeling of tiredness. Others may experience the previous symptoms and one or more of the following symptoms: vomiting, nausea, an extreme sensitivity to light, muscle pain and a body rash. Should you experience any combination of the above symptoms it is advised that you seek medical attention immediately. Should your child or baby show any of the above signs of meningitis, or irritability, joint pain, a bulging soft spot, shivering or cold hands or feet, you should him or her them to the doctor’s immediately.

How Is Meningitis Spread?

While meningitis is not highly contagious, it can still be spread through respiratory droplets, for example, through sneezing on someone, coughing on them, kissing, sharing eating utensils or cigarettes etc.  It’s not nearly as contagious as the common cold, but if you fear that you have been in contact with or in the vicinity of someone who is infected with meningitis, it is important that you contact your doctor immediately.  Take no risks with this disease.

Who Needs To Get A Meningitis Vaccination?

meningitis doctors visit with baby and motherThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that all children be vaccinated for Meningitis between the ages of eleven and eighteen.  In addition, any one traveling to an area where meningitis is common such as sub-Saharan Africa should, of course, be vaccinated as should anyone who has had any spleen related problems, including removal of the spleen.

Moreover, you should consider a meningitis vaccine if you are about to enter a college dorm as the close proximity of people means that the disease spreads more easily.  This is true to of military service, where it is obligatory to have a meningitis vaccination. Really, any time a large group of people are living in close proximity to one another, a bacterial meningitis vaccination is a very good idea.

It is also recommended that children from two months old to ten years old receive the vaccine if they are at an increased risk of catching the disease.  This increased risk primarily refers to traveling to, or living in, an area where meningitis is widespread. It also, however, may refer to any child who has a pre-existing medical condition, in particular problems related to the spleen.

Age Requirements For The Vaccine

There is no upper age limit at which you may vaccinate against meningitis, but there is a lower limit of 2 months for children.  This 2 month age limit though is only for special cases.  Nine months is considered the lower limit in most cases.

How The Vaccine Protects You Against Meningitis

meningitis how it works graphicIn America there are two different types of vaccine available. These are Meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (MPSV4) and Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4).  However, these two vaccines are still only about 90 percent effective in protecting you from meningitis.  For this reason, even if you have had a meningitis vaccination, if you feel you are developing meningitis-like symptoms or you have been in close proximity to someone who has meningitis, it is important to consult a medical expert.

Both these vaccines work in the same way.  They expose your body to harmless proteins from the disease and this prompts your body to produce antibodies to fight against this intruder.  These anti-bodies do not disappear but stay in your body, ready and waiting for the time when you are properly exposed to the meningitis bacteria or virus.  They can then effectively fight it off.

Beyond a little soreness where the vaccine was injected and possibly an extremely low-grade fever that disappears quickly, the vast majority of people experience no side-effects to the meningitis vaccine. Side-effects to medicine are always possible however, so if you experience anything more than the aforementioned low-grade fever and soreness, seek medical attention immediately.

Diagnosis And Treatment For Meningitis

Diagnosis of meningitis is carried out by taking a sample of either blood or cerebrospinal fluid. Cerebrospinal fluid comes from an area near the spinal cord. Should you be unfortunate enough to contract viral meningitis, you can expect to make a full recovery within a few days. Just make sure to rest, drink lots of liquids and take any pain relievers prescribed by your doctor.

Should you contract bacterial meningitis things are a lot more serious.  Treatment is with antibiotics and these should be prescribed as soon as possible. (In fact, in most cases, if meningitis is suspected then antibiotics are given before it has been diagnosed.)  Although rates are somewhat higher for young children and the elderly, if the disease is diagnosed and treated quickly enough the chances of dying from bacterial meningitis are less than 15 percent.  That is still obviously 15 percent too much.  Make no mistake, meningitis is a serious disease.

A meningitis vaccination, although expensive, is one of the many vaccinations you should not miss such is the seriousness of this disease.  Even if you have been vaccinated, visit your doctor immediately should you experience any of the symptoms of this disease.

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