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Meningococcal Disease and Vaccine

The Alabama Legislature enacted Senate Joint Resolution 26 (Act No. 2006-54) urging the State Department of Education and the Alabama Department of Public Health to collaboratively focus on efforts to educate parents and students entering 6th, 10th, and 12th grades about the disease, including causes, symptoms, how it is spread, how to obtain additional information about the disease and the availability, effectiveness and risk of vaccination against the disease.

What is meningococcal disease?

Meningococcal disease is a serious illness, caused by bacteria. It is the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children 2-18 years old in the United States.

How do you catch the disease?

The bacteria that causes meningococcal disease are very common. The disease is most common in children and people with certain medical conditions that affect their immune system. College freshmen, living in dormitories, also have increased risk of getting the disease. The disease is spread through exchange of respiratory droplets or saliva with an infected person including kissing, coughing,sneezing and sharing drinking glasses and eating utensils. In a few people, the bacteria overcome the body’s immune system and pass through the lining of the nose and throat into the blood stream where they cause meningitis. Meningitis is a term that describes inflammation of the tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

What are the symptoms of the disease?

 Fever

 Headache

 Stiff neck

 Red rash

 Drowsiness

 Nausea and vomiting

Meningococcal vaccine: Who should get the vaccine and when?

MCV4, or the meningococcal vaccine, is recommended for all children 11-12 years of age and for unvaccinated adolescents at high school entry level (15 years of age). High school seniors should also consider obtaining the vaccine prior to entering college,especially if they are planning on living in a dormitory. Please consult your physician or local health department for more information.For more information on this and other vaccine recommendations go to

Additional information may be found here

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