Calendar, benefits, side effects and more
The vaccines have significantly reduced the incidence of bacterial and viral meningitis. There are several types of vaccines, and each type is given at a different age and protects against a different type of meningitis.
Meningitis is a condition that causes inflammation of the meninges, which are the membranous linings that protect the brain and spinal cord. It is most often due to bacteria or a virus.
Bacterial meningitis is particularly dangerous. This can lead to permanent disabilities, such as hearing loss or brain damage, or lead to death.
Read on to learn more about planning for different meningitis vaccines, the benefits of these vaccines, the risks of meningitis, and why getting vaccinated is important.
There are different types of meningitis vaccine that doctors will give
Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine
Before a vaccine became available, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) was the primary cause bacterial meningitis. Hib is much less common today due to vaccinations.
Doctors usually give the Hib vaccine at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. They will administer it again between 12 and 15 months.
The dosing schedule depends on the brand of vaccine an infant is receiving.
Doctors will give this vaccine on its own or as part of a combination vaccine.
Pneumococcus the bacteria can cause meningitis and other serious infections, such as pneumonia.
The initial vaccination takes place at 2, 4 and 6 months of age, and an infant will receive another dose between 12 and 15 months.
The most common meningococcal vaccine is the meningococcal conjugate vaccine, known as MCV4 or MenACWY.
This series of vaccines usually begins at the age of 11. However, children with certain conditions may receive it earlier.
A booster dose will follow at age 16.
There are currently two types of meningococcal vaccine in the United States:
- conjugate meningococcal vaccines or MenACWY (Menactra and Menveo)
- Meningococcal serogroup B or MenB vaccines (Bexsero and Trumenba)
The recommendation is that adolescents and young adults between the ages of 16 and 23 also receive the meningococcal serogroup B vaccine, especially if they fall into a high risk category.
This vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella. Before this vaccine was available, mumps was a common cause of viral meningitis. Measles is also a cause of meningitis.
Doctors usually give this vaccine when an infant is 12 to 15 months old and again when it is 4 to 6 years old.
Meningitis rates are at a
Since 2005, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended tweens and teens get the MenACWY vaccine, meningitis in some groups of teens has been reduced by more than 90%.
Experts believe that the MenACWY and MenB vaccines provide protection to people who have been vaccinated, but do not protect the larger unvaccinated community through herd immunity.
This is why vaccination is essential for the prevention of meningitis.
There are many types of meningitis. The sections below will look at some of these types in more detail.
It is the most dangerous form of meningitis. The bacteria that cause it are contagious and can be fatal.
Bacterial meningitis requires immediate medical attention, and vaccines can protect against some types.
This is due to a virus and is often less serious than bacterial meningitis.
People with well-functioning immune systems usually recover on their own, while others may require medical attention. Vaccines prevent certain types of viral meningitis.
This happens by inhaling fungal spores. People with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of getting it.
Various parasites can cause meningitis.
People usually get it from eating infected animals or contaminated food.
Primary amoebic meningitis
It is a rare and damaging brain infection. The cause is a microscopic amoeba called Naegleria fowleri, who lives in hot water and soil.
It is not contagious and people usually get it while swimming in water containing amoeba.
However, serious reactions are possible. It is important to tell a child’s doctor if they have any side effects from the vaccine.
MenACWY vaccines are associated with mild problems that can last 1 to 2 days. They may include:
MenB vaccines are associated with mild problems that can last from 3 to 5 days. They may include:
- redness, swelling and pain at the injection site
- fever or chills
Vaccines are essential to protect against meningitis. Infants and young children are particularly at risk disease because their immune system is not fully developed and able to fight it.
Although viral meningitis is rarely fatal, it can still make infants and young children very sick. Most recover well, but it can take a long time for the illness to fully overcome.
Bacterial meningitis can be fatal, so it requires immediate medical attention. For more than 80% of children who die from this type of meningitis, death occurs within 24 hours of diagnosis.
Around 10% of affected children die, and some end up with lifelong disabilities.
The most common types of meningitis are bacterial and viral. Although people tend to recover from viral meningitis, bacterial meningitis can be fatal, especially in infants and young children.
There are several types of meningitis, but only viral and bacterial meningitis can spread easily from person to person.
The timing of the various types of vaccines will depend on the type a person receives, but most vaccinations take place when an infant is 2 to 6 months old and 12 to 15 months old. This tends to be followed by another at 11 and a booster at 16.
Side effects from vaccines are usually mild and tend to go away within a few days.
Herd immunity is unlikely to prevent meningitis, so it is essential that people are vaccinated and their children vaccinated.
Meningitis can lead to death or lifelong disability.