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Meningitis Shot Available, Effective Year-Round
Date:10/25/2007

n of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord. The presence of bacteria in the blood is called meningococcemia. Pneumococcal meningitis mainly attacks younger children but can affect older children, too.

Another type of bacterial meningitis, Haemophilis influenzae type b disease, has been nearly wiped out since infant vaccine programs against HIb began in the mid-1980s.

Viral meningitis, another form, is not typically as deadly or debilitating as bacterial meningitis, and those stricken usually recover on their own.

Teens and young adults make up nearly 30 percent of all U.S. cases of bacterial meningitis, the CDC estimates.

The good news: Up to 83 percent of these cases among teens are thought to be preventable by vaccination, according to estimates from the National Meningitis Association.

Two vaccines are currently available in the United States. "Menomune was on the market first," explained Cary of Sanofi Pasteur. Next came Menactra, available since 2005.

Menactra is the vaccine typically given for routine vaccinations, Cary said, while Menomune would be given if an outbreak of meningitis occurred.

The vaccines cost about $90 to $120 and are typically paid for by insurance plans or covered by childhood vaccine programs, Bozof said.

Menactra protects against four of the most common strains of meningococcal disease, Cary said, including strains A, C, Y and W135. It doesn't protect against strain B, but "no vaccine is available that does [that]," she said.

Preventing the disease is much preferred to treating it, the experts say, but they warn that even those who are vaccinated can still get the disease, as no vaccine is perfect. Teens and young adults in particular should know the symptoms, which are flu-like in the beginning and include nausea, vomiting, headache and fever, along with a stiff neck.

Immediate medical care is crucial. Antibiotics
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