As students begin looking ahead to graduation and starting a new and exciting chapter in life, it’s a good time to remind both students and their parents about the important role that immunizations play in that chapter. Health department officials in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, and McIntosh counties want to encourage soon-to-be high school graduates to get vaccinated against meningococcal disease which causes meningitis.
Meningococcal disease is not common; however, when it is contracted it can be dangerous. The bacteria that causes meningococcal disease is spread by exchanging respiratory and throat secretions (saliva or spit) during close (for example, coughing or kissing) or lengthy contact, especially if living in the same household or dorm. There are different kinds of meningitis. Bacterial meningitis can be very serious and can even cause permanent disabilities and death. Viral meningitis is the most common type of meningitis and is usually less serious but can still cause illness.
“We encourage parents of students getting ready to graduate – especially those going off to college – to make sure their children have received the meningococcal vaccine and that all vaccinations are up-to-date,” said Coastal Health District Immunization Coordinator, Paige Lightsey, R.N. “This is an exciting time for our students and we want to do everything we can to make sure that they are protected from meningitis as they start on their new adventure.”
When children are 11 or 12 years old they should receive one dose of the vaccine followed by a booster at age 16. Parents can check with the health department or their healthcare provider to get immunization records for their children or schedule a time to get the meningococcal vaccine.
For more information on meningitis or the meningococcal vaccine, please to cdc.gov/meningitis.