School nurses are calling on Miami parents to help protect their preteens and teens against meningococcal disease by getting them vaccinated during the back-to-school season. Meningococcal disease is a rare, but serious bacterial infection that can cause meningitis and take the life of an otherwise healthy child in just a single day.
Meningitis is spread from person to person, and a recent survey showed that nearly 82 percent of preteens and teens engage in common, everyday activities that increase their risk of getting the disease — such as sharing water bottles, living in close quarters or kissing. These findings highlight the importance of vaccination in helping to keep preteens, teens and communities protected against meningitis.
Preteens and teens are at increased risk for meningitis, and death rates are up to five times higher among teenagers and young adults compared with younger age groups. Up to one in five survivors are left with serious medical problems, including amputation, brain damage, deafness and kidney damage.
Despite recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calling for vaccination of preteens and teens beginning at age 11, with a booster dose by 18 years of age, only about half of Florida teens, ages 13-17, have been immunized, which is far below national public health goals.
More information can be found at www.VoicesOfMeningitis.org.