Meningococcal disease is a potentially life-threatening bacterial infection that can lead to meningococcal meningitis, an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord, or meningococcal septicemia, an infection of the blood.
Meningococcal disease, caused by bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis, is the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in older children and young adults in the United States. It strikes 1,400 to 3,000 Americans each year and is responsible for approximately 150 to 300 deaths.
On Oct. 26, 2015, New York State Public Health Law was amended to require children entering or attending seventh and 12th grades on or after Sept. 1, 2016 to receive an adequate dose or doses of vaccine against meningococcal disease as recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
Meningococcal meningitis is a serious disease which can lead to death within hours. Survivors may be left with severe disabilities, including the loss of limbs, cognitive deficits, paralysis, deafness or seizures.
The ACIP recommendations for meningococcal vaccine are:
- A single dose of vaccine against meningococcal serogroups A, C, W-135 and Y should be administered to all adolescents at age 11 or 12 years.
- A second (booster) dose of the vaccine should be administered at age 16 years. The booster dose is not necessary for adolescents who receive the first dose at 16 years of age or older. The minimum interval between doses is eight weeks.
- A serogroup B meningococcal vaccine series may be administered to adolescents and young adults 16-23 years of age, at the discretion of the healthcare provider. The preferred age for MenB vaccine is 16-18 years of age.
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