Meningitis can infect anyone; however, those with weaker immune systems, such as children and teens, have a higher risk. Staying aware of symptoms and getting routine vaccinations will help ensure your child’s well-being. This disease acts quickly, targeting the meninges (membranes covering the brain and spinal cord) and causing infection and inflammation. While it is an uncommon disease, meningitis can be serious and cause long-term health problems or death. Around 10-15% of people die from meningitis, sometimes within 24 hours. A child’s safety and well-being are a parent’s utmost concern. So, should you vaccinate your child against meningitis? Here’s what you need to know.
Signs and symptoms of meningitis can appear suddenly. A person aged 2 and older may experience the following symptoms:
- High fever
- Difficulty waking from sleep
- Nausea or vomiting
- Stiffness in the body and neck
- No appetite
- Skin rash
Meningitis has several forms, the most common being viral and bacterial. Viral meningitis is more common and tends to be moderate. It is caused by other viruses, such as colds, diarrhea, cold sores, and the flu. Usually, it will go away on its own within 7-10 days and may not require a hospital stay.
Bacterial meningitis can lead to long-term complications, ranging from hearing loss, vision problems, seizures, and learning disabilities. Head injuries, contaminated food, and large group settings are how the bacteria spread and enter the body.
The best prevention measure for meningitis is vaccination. Having your child vaccinated for other illnesses, like measles and polio, will also help protect them. Since children are prone to the disease, vaccines should start around 11 or 12 years old. The current vaccine series for meningitis helps protect against four major strains.
Research for better vaccines is continuing. Boeson Research is dedicated to improving the health of the generations that follow. If your child is between 11 and 14 years old, find out if they qualify for meningitis vaccine trials. If you would like to learn more about enrolling meningitis studies, call (970) 599-7474 or visit our website.