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Meningitis Letter

July 2016

Dear Parents, Guardians and Students,

One type of meningitis is caused by a bacterium called Neisseria meningitidis. Infections caused by this bacterium are serious, and may lead to death. Symptoms of an infection with Neisseria meningitidis may include a high fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, confusion and a rash. This disease can become severe very quickly and often leads to deafness, mental retardation, loss of arms or legs and even death. The bacteria are spread from close person to person contact through the exchange of nose and throat secretions, by activities such as kissing or sharing eating or drinking utensils. The bacteria are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air where a person with meningitis has been.

There are 2 types of meningococcal vaccine available in the United States. Vaccines for meningococcal serogroups A, C, W and Y are composed of polysaccharide (sugar molecules) from the surface of the meningococcal bacteria. Meningococcal vaccines in which the polysaccharide is chemically bonded (conjugated) to a protein produce better protection and are more effective in young children than the original polysaccharide vaccine. Vaccines for meningococcal serogroup B (MenB) are composed of proteins also found in the surface of the bacteria. Neither type of vaccine contains live meningococcal bacteria. Meningococcal polysaccharide or conjugate vaccines provide no protection against serogroup B disease and MenB vaccines provide no protection against serogroup A, C, W or Y disease. For protection against all five serogroups of meningococcus, it is necessary to receive both vaccines.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccination of children with the meningococcal conjugate vaccine (Menactra and Menveo) at 11 or 12 years of age, with a booster dose of the vaccine at 16 years of age. The booster dose at age 16 provides ongoing protection from the disease after high school. The CDC also recommends that a MenB vaccine series may be administered to persons 16 through 23 years of age with a preferred age of vaccination of 16 through 18 years. This permissive (Category B) recommendation allows the clinician to make a MenB vaccine recommendation based on the risk and benefit for the individual patient.

The state of Indiana requires all students in grades 6-12 to have the appropriate number of meningococcal conjugate vaccine doses. One dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine is required for all students in 6th -11th grade. A second booster dose is required for students entering 12th grade. These vaccines are a legal requirement for school entry (Indiana Administrative Code 410 IAC 1-1-1) for the 2016-2017 school year. The MenB vaccine is not a legal requirement for school entry at this time, and cannot be used for the meningococcal vaccine requirement for school entry.

All students in grades 6-12 must have acceptable documentation of required immunizations on record at the school they are currently attending. An acceptable record includes a signed record from the child’s health care provider indicating the name of the vaccine given and the date it was given, a record of the immunization in the state immunization registry (CHIRP) prior to the start of the school year, or a record from another school showing the required immunizations have been given.

Many local health departments and private healthcare providers offer this vaccine. Please contact your health care provider for specific instructions regarding your child.

More information about meningococcal disease can be found at:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website:

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/mening/default.htm

IN State Department of Health website: http://www.in.gov/isdh/25455.htm

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