Meningococcal disease is a serious fatal illness caused by bacterial infection mainly in the brain, spinal cord and blood. It is so dangerous that it can cause shock, coma or death within few hours after the first symptom is observed. Though treatment methods are available, it has been reported that despite undergoing proper treatment, 10 to 15% of the sufferers die. Besides, 20% of the patients suffer from serious complications which might require amputation of arm or leg, permanent hearing loss or brain damage. Though more common in teens and young adults, it is contagious and therefore, can affect person of any age group.
The most effective way of fighting meningococcal disease is by preventing it through vaccination. Three types of vaccines are available, out of which one is composed of sugar molecules and another of proteins present onthe surface of the bacteria causing it. Another type consists of a polysaccharide which is conjugated to a protein. These are found to be more effective in young children than the others. The vaccine is usually administered in the arm or leg muscle.
All the people who lie in the age group between 11-18 years should be administered with the vaccine as these are the people with the greatest risk factor. Besides, people who are two months or older and suffer from immunity disorders or have damaged spleen, are recommended to take this vaccine. Also, people infected with HIV are advised to take a dose of the vaccination. It has been found to be safe for pregnant women too. However, people who are severely ill or have had allergic reactions to earlier doses of meningococcal infections vaccine are advised to abstain from it.
Few mild side effects of the vaccine are redness and pain at the site of injection. In certain cases, fever has also been reported as a side effect. Apart from these, the vaccine is found to be completely safe and effective in preventing the life threatening disease.
Disclaimer: The information given in this write-up is purely for educating the reader. It is not meant to be a substitute for any advice from a medical expert.