Meningitis is a highly dangerous disease, which can be controlled with a vaccine. What is a meningitis vaccine? Is it safe? What are the side effects and how much does it cost? Scroll down to know the answers to all of these questions and more …
There are many different kinds of infectious diseases that can affect almost any and every part of the body. One of these highly dreadful diseases is meningitis. It is a serious disease that affects the entire body and more so, the nervous system. It can be either viral in nature or bacterial in nature. In this condition, the person experiences severe headaches, extreme rigidity in muscles, and altered mental status, among other symptoms. If left untreated, this condition, especially, bacterial meningitis could easily prove to be fatal. Thankfully, there is a vaccine that helps to prevent this ailment. There are a total of three meningitis vaccines available in the United States that help to prevent meningococcal disease.
Who Should Take Meningitis Shots?
- Adults older than sixty years of age.
- Children below five years of age do not have the required amount of immunity to fight this disease. Hence, taking these shots for children below the age of five years is very important.
- It is said that it is absolutely mandatory to take these shots for college students, as the chances of contracting and then fast spread of this disease is relatively higher in students who are college going or who live in dormitories.
- People who have a low immune system should also preferably get themselves vaccinated. This is because people who have a slightly lower immunity cannot fight infections that easily. This is especially applicable for people who have a missing or an injured spleen, which further compromises their ability to fight infections.
- People who are employed in the health care sector often tend to take their own health very lightly. Well, it is very important for these people to get vaccinated. This is because, when handling patients who have meningitis, or worse, when handling meningococcus bacteria in laboratories, there are high chances of contracting the infection.
- Army troops who are being deployed to countries where this ailment is endemic or epidemic in nature.
- People traveling or going on a pilgrimage to places where meningitis is endemic or epidemic.
Types of Vaccines
There are a total of three types of vaccines available. The first, meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4) was licensed in America in 2005. The other type of vaccine, meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (MPSV4) has been available since over four decades now, and is the only vaccine licensed for people over the age of fifty-five years. The immunity offered by MPSV4 lasts for about three years or less in children below the age of five years. Also, boosters do not help in case of this vaccine. However, when it comes to MCV4, one can get increased immunity against this disease by taking subsequent booster doses. The meningitis shot cost comes to anywhere between USD 80 to USD 100.
Although the meningitis shot is a relatively safe vaccine, there are a few possible meningitis vaccine side effects that may be seen in people. Weakness in the arms and legs is especially seen in individuals who have recently been vaccinated. This can be an immediate reaction, or it can happen a few days after vaccination. Other side effects due to this vaccine include high fever and chills. One of the side effects associated with almost any vaccine is pain at the site of the injection. Common side effects include generic ones like headache, slight joint pain, diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, etc. In case the side effects worsen or are very severe, then you need to consult the doctor immediately.
The meningitis shot may have a few side effects and in general, people are almost always scared of getting an injection. However, the fact is, with the help of this vaccine, you can stay free from a dreadful disease for a period of almost three years or more. So, like they say, prevention is better than cure. So go and get yourself vaccinated today, especially if you fall into the high risk group.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.