It’s that time of year again: back to school. Along with helping your teen get back in the swing of things for school, there’s also the added pressure of making sure they are preparing for college. It’s easy to see how health can fall by the wayside during this busy time, but when it comes to your teen, we know you’re number one priority is keeping them safe. And to do that, you have to take the necessary precautions. This can include, making sure they eat healthy, get enough sleep, and of course, getting them the proper vaccinations before school starts.
One of the most important vaccinations your teen can receive is the meningococcal vaccination, also known as Meningitis. There are two types of meningococcal vaccines used in the United States, one being serogroup B meningococcal or meningitis B vaccines. The Centers for Disease Control recommends meningococcal vaccination for all preteens and teens and in certain situations other children and adults as well. Read below for more information on the meningitis B vaccine and why it’s so crucial to your child’s health.
What is meningitis B?
According to the CDC, meningococcal disease can cause meningitis, which is an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord, and infections of the blood. The disease is uncommon, however, it is severe when contracted, and infected are at significant risk of death or lasting disabilities such as hearing loss, brain damage, kidney damage, loss of limbs, nervous system problems, or severe scars from skin grafts.
Who should get vaccinated against meningitis B?
Young adults aged 16 to 23 are at an increased risk of contracting meningococcal infections and therefore should get the vaccine at that age. Any teen may choose to get a meningitis B vaccine, but it should be noted that certain preteens and teens should get it if they have a complement component deficiency, are taking a complement inhibitor, have a damaged/removed spleen or sickle cell disease, or are part of a population with an increased risk of a meningococcal disease outbreak.
Who might not be able to get the vaccine?
People of a certain age or with certain conditions should not get certain vaccines or should wait before getting them. The CDC offers helpful guidelines that outline who should be cautious of the meningitis B vaccine.
Who is at a greater risk of contracting meningitis B?
Remember, anyone can get meningitis B, but certain people are at increased risk, including infants, adolescents, and young adults ages 16 through 23. With any disease, there is a higher chance of it spreading when people live in close quarters. That’s why college campuses (due to close proximity within dorms) and those with weakened immune systems present a concern.
How well does the vaccine work?
For best protection, more than one dose of a meningococcal B vaccine is needed. There are two meningococcal B vaccines available, but please note that the same vaccine must be used for all doses. So, before you start the school year, book that doctor’s appointment and make sure that your teen is ready for the year ahead. Meningococcal disease may be uncommon, but many people still need to get these vaccines in order to measure their effectiveness and stay protected.