Meningitis immunizations: Helping you get ready for back-to-school
Well, it's that time of year again. No, not Christmas in July -- though that's fun, too -- I'm actually referring to the fact that many students, high school and college students in particular, are getting ready to head back to school. With all the planning and preparation that comes along with that, we wanted to send a quick reminder about the importance of meningitis shots for students and share a few places in Boise, Meridian and Nampa where you or your children can be immunized against this sometimes serious and life-threatening illness.
So what is meningitis?
Meningitis, or meningococcal disease, is a disease caused by the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord known as the meninges. While rare, the severity of the disease concerns parents and school administrators in particular because it can be highly contagious, is usually passed through coughing or sneezing, and most often affects children, teens and young adults. Older adults and those with long-term health problems and/or weakened immune systems are also at risk.
Viral meningitis is the most common form of meningitis, followed by bacterial meningitis, and as with their names, viral meningitis is caused by a virus, and bacterial meningitis is caused by bacteria. Both forms of meningitis can be life-threatening because of the inflammation's proximity to the brain and spinal cord. Because of this, some schools, colleges especially, require their students to be immunized, thereby lessening the chance of an outbreak.
How can I protect myself and my kids against meningitis?
Talk to your doctor about whether you or your child also needs the meningococcal vaccine, the shot that prevents against bacterial meningitis, but know that in general it is recommended for:
- Adolescents at age 11 or 12 (Booster shots will be needed again at age 16.)
- Young adults aged 21 and younger who haven't had the shot yet.
- People who plan to travel to countries known to have meningitis outbreaks, such as the countries in Africa south of the Saharan Desert.
- People whose immunize systems are compromised, especially anyone with HIV or missing his or her spleen.
Some people will need a booster shot every 5 years. Your doctor can offer this recommendation.
Where can I find the meningitis shot?
Your doctor should be able to offer the shot, and we can administer it here at the pharmacy without the need for an office visit if you prefer. Our complete list of available immunizations and prices can be found here.
Several colleges and universities are also offering free shots in the fall, and you can find more information on the Idaho Immunization Coalition website. They do require proof of enrollment and ask that you bring your college ID with you when you come, but the dates and locations listed on their website are as follows:
University of Idaho
August 23, 2013 - 12:30 – 4 pm Location: TLC 143 Lounge
September 4, 2013 - 12 to 4 pm Location: SRC Classroom
October 28, 2013 - 10 am to 2 pm Location: TLC 143 Lounge
October 29, 2013 - 10 am to 2 pm Location: TLC 143 Lounge
August 23, 2013
College of Idaho
September 19, 2013