Those who should get the vaccine, according to the CDC, are:
people who might be affected during an outbreak of certain types of meningococcal disease
anyone traveling to, or living in, a part of the world where meningococcal disease is common, such as West Africa
anyone who has a damaged spleen, or whose spleen has been removed
anyone who has terminal complement component deficiency (an immune system disorder)
What about college freshmen? For this group, ACIP recommends that those who provide medical care to freshman dormitory residents give information to students and their parents about meningococcal disease and the benefits of vaccination.
ACIP also recommends that vaccination should be provided or made easily available to those freshmen who wish to reduce their risk of disease. Other undergraduate students wishing to do the same can also choose to be vaccinated.
The American College Health Association (ACHA) released a statement on September 30, 1997 that “college health services [take] a more proactive role in alerting students and their parents about the dangers of meningococcal disease” and that “college students consider vaccination against potentially fatal meningococcal disease.”
Some points about the meningococcal vaccine:
Getting the vaccine will decrease a person’s risk for getting meningococcal disease but not eliminate that risk. That’s because the vaccine doesn’t protect against serogroup B, and the protection it does give against serogroups A, C, Y, and W-135 is not 100 percent.
For adolescents, a single dose of the vaccine is generally given.
The risk of a serious or life-threatening reaction to the vaccine is small.
Mild side effects, such as redness or pain at the injection site, or fever, may develop in some people.
The duration of protection given by the vaccine is about three to five years. The CDC recommends considering revaccination for college freshman who were vaccinated more than three to five years earlier.
The CDC has a Vaccination Information Statement on the meningococcal vaccine which doctors are required to give to you before this immunization, as they are required to give you a Vaccine Information Statement before any immunization. You can obtain the statement from the CDC.
Your Teen’s Future
As with many health issues involving your child, you as a parent will need to be on top of things. You may need to bring up this issue with your child’s doctor. You should discuss vaccination with your teen and help him or her make a decision.
In doing so, consider this: Of the eight college students who died in 1998-1999 from meningococcal disease, five had serogroup information available — four had serogroup C, and one had serogroup Y. Both of these serogroups are highly protected against with the quadrivalent vaccine.
So, if college dormitory life is in your child s future, start making plans now. How you approach this issue today may someday prove vital.
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