For more than 30 years, there has been a vaccine that can safely prevent pneumococcal disease, a serious infection caused by a bacterium known as Streptococcus pneumoniae. But the PPSV vaccine (pneumococcal polysaccharide) cannot be used for the part of the population that is most vulnerable to the disease:- children under the age of 2. Without the protection of a vaccine, infants and very young children are at higher risk for several dangerous infections, including pneumonia and bacterial meningitis...
Anyone can develop just about any kind of meningitis. But research has shown that some age groups have higher rates of meningitis than others. They are:
Children under age 5
Teenagers and young adults aged 16-25
Adults over age 55
Studies have shown that meningitis is more of a danger for people with certain medical conditions, such as a damaged or missing spleen, chronic disease, or immune system disorders.
Because certain germs that cause meningitis can be contagious, outbreaks are most likely where people are living in close quarters. So college students in dorms or army recruits in barracks are at higher risk. So are people traveling to areas where meningitis is more common, such as parts of Africa.
However, keep this in mind. Even if your personal odds of getting meningitis are higher than average, it's still a rare disease.
Meningococcal meningitis is a serious disease -- even with treatment. That's why prevention is a far better approach. The meningococcal vaccine can prevent meningitis infection. In the U.S., two types of meningococcal vaccines are used:
meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4) -- One of these vaccines, Menactra, is approved for people ages 9 months to 55. The other, Menveo is used in those ages 2 through 55.
meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (MPSV4) -- the only vaccine used for people older than age 55.
Although they cannot prevent all types of meningococcal disease, both vaccines can prevent many types of the disease. Both are effective in nine out of 10 people. MCV4 tends to give longer protection and is better at preventing transmission of the disease.
Doctors recommend a dose of MCV4, which is given as a shot, for children ages 11 to 12. A second, booster dose is given at age 16. Other people at risk should also consider getting a vaccine. That includes:
people who think they've been exposed to meningococcal meningitis
college freshmen living in dorms
U.S. military recruits
travelers to areas of the world, such as Africa, where meningococcal disease is common
people with a damaged spleen or with terminal complement component deficiency, which is an immune system disorder
lab personnel who are often exposed to the meningococcal bacteria
Wait to get vaccinated if you are very ill at the time you're scheduled for the shot. Avoid the vaccine if you:
Mild pain or redness at the injection site is common and should not be a problem. But call your doctor right away if you have a strong reaction to the vaccine. This includes a high fever, weakness, or signs of an allergic reaction, such as trouble breathing, a fast heartbeat, or dizziness.