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World Meningitis Day hopes to raise awareness

Grundy Health Department has vaccine against deadly disease

Published: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 9:22 a.m. CDT

World Meningitis Day is Wednesday, April 24, 2013.

Are you aware that meningococcal disease can be deadly? Meningococcal disease is a rare, but dangerous, bacterial infections that poses a serious threat to teenagers. The disease develops rapidly – meningococcal disease can be fatal to an otherwise healthy young person within hours.

Approximately 10 percent of people with meningococcal disease die even with appropriate antibiotic treatment.  Of those who recover, up to 20 percent suffer from some serious after-effect, such as permanent hearing loss, limb loss, or brain damage.

The bacteria that cause meningococcal disease are spread through the air via sneezing or coughing, as well as through direct contact, such as kissing or sharing a drinking glass, with an infected person.

While meningococcal disease initially may feel like influenza, it can quickly turn deadly, with the following symptoms:  sudden onset of fever, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, headache, rash, light sensitivity, and altered mental status.

They can appear in any order and some may not appear at all. 

The Grundy County Health Department has a meningococcal vaccination provided by Illinois Department of Public Health Vaccine for Children Program for routine vaccination for adolescents 11- 18 years,  with 11- 12 years being the best time to vaccinate. Also the vaccine is recommended for 19 – 21 years if they are entering college or are in a college or university setting.

Certain eligibility requirements must be met to participate in the Vaccine for Children Program. The qualifications include the following:  enrolled in Medicaid, does not have health insurance, is an American Indian or Alaskan Native, or has health insurance that does not pay for vaccines.

New recommendations from the Advisory Commit-tee on Immunization Prac-tices for a booster (second) dose of a meningococcal vaccine is now being utilized at the Grundy County Health Department. All adolescents who were first vaccinated at ages 11 – 12 years need a booster dose at age 16 years; all teens who were vaccinated at ages 13 – 15 years need a booster dose at age 16 – 18 years.

Adults 19 – 21 years who are living in on-campus housing should get a booster dose if their previous dose was given before 16 years.

The Grundy County Health Department has clinics by appointment on Wednesdays. To schedule an appointment call the nursing secretary at (815) 941-3419. The Health Department asks for a $15 donation, but no one is turned away if unable to pay.

The Health Department has private purchase meningococcal vaccine for individuals 19 years of age and older for $125.

If this would be a financial hardship, the Beth Ann Miller Foundation has donated monies to cover the cost of this vaccine.

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