Meningitis occurs when the membranes that protect the brain and spinal cord are inflamed. Every year, 1,000 to 2,000 people are affected by meningitis in the United States, and 10% to 15% of them pass away despite having received treatment. Among those who survive, 11% to 19% become mentally retarded or deaf, lose their limbs, suffer strokes or seizures, or experience nervous system malfunctions.
The condition can affect people of all ages, but it occurs most commonly in infants who are less than one year old and people who are between 16 to 21 years old. As such, it is essential for teens to get meningitis vaccination.
Meningitis vaccine is recommended for all teenagers, ranging from 11 to 18 years of age. It is especially important for those who are seeking admission to college, because many colleges in the US have made it compulsory for applicants to show proof of meningitis vaccination. The vaccine is usually given when children go for their 11 or 12-year-old checkup, and it is administered as a single vaccination.
There are two different types of meningitis vaccine, namely, Menactra and Menomune. Menactra is a meningococcal conjugate vaccine or MCV4, while Menomune is a meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine or MPSV4. These vaccines provide effective protection against the dangerous Neisseria meningitidis bacteria, which can cause life-threatening infection. Meningitis vaccines may have certain side effects, including pain or redness in the site of the injection, as well as fever.
Teens who are allergic to the vaccine or its components, have suffered Guillian-Barre Syndrome before, or are moderately ill should consult a doctor before taking meningitis vaccine.