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Meningitis Vaccine for Teenagers

Our pediatrician poked a pen in my teenage daughter’s arm and said “That’s how much it will hurt, or I will give you ten dollars” He was talking about the meningitis vaccine.

Meningitis is an infection of the fluid surrounding the spinal cord, and can be caused by bacteria or virus. Often patients complain of headache, stiff neck, high fever, and a rash.

Meningococcal disease is rare, only 2,600 people become ill with it each year; however it strikes with little warning and can be fatal in 10 percent of the cases. College freshmen and military recruits who live in close surroundings are at highest risk. Also, several cases among high school students in West Tennessee have been reported.

Two vaccines, Menomune and Menactra, are available in preventing meningococcal meningitis and are widely recommended by doctors. Both vaccines protect 90 percent of those vaccinated, however Menactra, which was licensed in 2005, is expected to give better, longer-lasting protection and is better at preventing the spread of disease from person to person.

My daughter did not win the ten dollars; rather she took the first step to college preparation.

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