Things You Need to Know about Meningitis Vaccine Shots

Meningitis vaccine shots are used to provide immunization against the bacteria called as meningococcus that can cause meningitis and meningococcemia. The bacterium is round, and it forms pairs. Hence it is also known as diplococcus. There are five serogroups of this bacteria: A, B, C, W, and Y. According to experts, at least 1 in 10 people is a carrier of this bacteria. However, they do not show any symptoms or signs of the disease. It has been observed that in nearly 10% of meningitis cases, there might be the possibility of developmental impairment. Risk factors of meningitis

The following groups of people are at a high risk of contracting meningitis.

  • Infants, teenagers, and young adults are more prone to meningitis.
  • A large group of people, especially in a community setting such as a college campus or, are at a risk of contracting meningitis.
  • People who lack a spleen in their body, have a deficiency of a complement component, or are infected with HIV have a high possibility of getting meningitis.
  • The sub-Saharan African region is known common and frequent outbreaks of meningitis. People who travel to this area may be at a risk of getting this disease.

How does a person contract meningitis?
Meningitis can spread through saliva or spit, mostly through secretions from the throat or the respiratory system. The contact has to be close and for a long duration. It is does spread through breathing the same air as a person affected by meningitis or by casual contact. However, the people who live with the person with meningitis are at a high risk of contracting the disease. It is recommended that people, who are in the same living space as the person with meningitis, should receive antibiotics treatment to avoid contracting meningitis.

Prevention of meningitis
Meningitis can be easily prevented with antibiotics and meningitis vaccine shots. Antibiotics are used to prevent meningitis among people who have to be in the same area as the person affected by meningitis. Meningitis vaccine shots provide immunity against all five serogroups of the meningococcus bacteria. Meningitis vaccine shots do not completely prevent the disease, but they help to protect against it, in case a person who is at a high risk of contracting the disease. Meningitis vaccine shots can be given at different ages. Here are the meningitis vaccine shots given to various age groups.

  • Ages 2 months to 10 years old: Children who have a high probability of contracting meningitis are recommended to take meningitis vaccine shots called Meningococcal conjugate vaccine or MenACWY or Hib-MenCY-TT. Children in this age group may be at a high risk because of specific medical conditions, or because there has been an outbreak of the disease where they stay, or because they are traveling to a place where there is a high probability of meningitis. Also, in case of extremely high risks, children in this age group can be given booster doses of meningitis vaccine shots.
  • Ages 11 years to 18 years: Meningitis vaccine shots should be given to children in this age group through multiple doses. Quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine or MenACWY is required for this age group. It is recommended that the first dose is given anytime between the 11th and 12th year. This should be followed by a booster dose at the 16th year. For children who receive their first meningitis vaccine shots at the age between 13 and 15, a one-time booster shot should be given between the ages of 16 and 18 years. Some can receive their first meningitis vaccine shots at the age between 16 and 18 years. In such cases, booster shots are not required.
  • Ages 18 and above: Adults are recommended quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY) or meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (MPSV4) meningitis shots. An adult should receive a meningitis vaccine in the following cases:
    • Spleen is removed or damaged
    • There is deficiency of complement component
    • The person is a microbiologist frequently exposed to the meningitis bacteria
    • The person has to stay in or travel to a country where the disease easily affects people.
    • The person is part of a community or demographic that is known to have high occurrences of A, C, W, or Y serogroups of meningococcal disease.
    • The person is a military recruit.

Serogroup B meningitis vaccine shots
Serogroup B meningitis vaccine shots can be given at any age. The conditions for receiving this vaccination remains the same. Children in the age group of 10 to 18 years and adults from the age of 19 years and above can get Serogroup B meningitis vaccine shots. The conditions for this include if they have a high risk of contracting the disease due to medical conditions, or because of specific medications or if they belong to a group known to be prone to this disease. Serogroup B meningitis vaccine shots are also given to person in the age-group of 16 years to 23 years for short-term immunity against the bacteria.

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