What is Meningitis and Why Your Child Needs to Get Vaccinated

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Meningitis is something we hear a lot about as our kids enter college but preteens and teens are at risk too. That’s why Nevada is now requiring the meningococcal vaccine for all 7th graders and new students entering 7th through 12th grades.

What is bacterial meningitis?

Bacterial meningitis, also known as meningococcal meningitis, is a disease caused by inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It is a medical emergency and should be treated as soon as you notice any symptoms.

Adolescents and young adults, ages 11 to 24 years, are at higher risk. For that reason, many colleges and universities require proof of a meningitis vaccine before new students move into dorms. And starting July 1, 2017, Nevada will require the meningococcal vaccine in addition to the Tdap vaccine for all 7th graders and new students entering grades 7-12.

RELATED: Dorm Safety: What You Need to Know About Bacterial Meningitis

What are the signs and symptoms?

·         Fever
·         Nausea
·         Vomiting
·         Irritability
·         Headache
·         Confusion
·         Back pain
·         Stiff or painful neck
·         Leg pain
·         Light sensitivity
·         Red-purple rash on torso or lower extremities

What makes bacterial meningitis so dangerous is how quickly it can progress. In some cases, it can seem like a flu or severe strep throat and take a few days to develop. In other cases, it can happen in a matter of hours and has an overall mortality rate of 10 to 15 percent.

The complications after recovery can also be severe including: Brain damage, amputations, infections around the heart, seizures and shock.

Protect Your Kids: Get Them Vaccinated

Getting the meningococcal vaccine is the best way to protect your kids. Your child should get the vaccination at 11-12 years old with a booster at 16 years.

Making sure your child gets all their other immunizations and practices good hygiene also help lower their risk. Simple things like hand-washing; covering your cough or sneeze; sanitizing countertops and shared surfaces; and not sharing drinks, straws, utensils, lip balms and toothbrushes are all good ideas.

For more information on bacterial meningitis visit Immunize Nevada or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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