Indiana Doubles Down on Fighting Meningitis

Indiana is requiring high school seniors to have the Meningococcal B in addition to the Meningococcal (MCV4) vaccine

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The Indiana State Department of Health (IDH) has updated the meningitis immunization requirements for high school seniors.

According to the existing IDH code, high school students must have the required meningitis vaccines to attend school each year. Students can be exempt from the vaccination if they have a medical or religious exemption filed with the school.

Ohio and Kentucky also require the meningitis vaccine for similar age groups.

Now, beginning for the 2017 fall semester, the IDH is requiring high school seniors to have two vaccinations; one for Meningococcal B, in addition to the Meningococcal (MCV4) vaccine.

In Indiana, all of the meningitis cases in 2014 were caused by the meningitis B strain, and in 2015, five of six cases were meningitis B.

Additionally, the IHD is requiring for the 2018-19 school year, two doses of the MenB vaccine for all seniors enrolled in an IDH accredited high school.

These changes were announced by the IDH in 2016 and schools are required to report all students’ immunization information to the state immunization data registry in February 2017.

The two most severe and common forms of meningococcal disease are meningitis and septicemia.

According to the National Meningococcal Disease Awareness Survey, 79% of parents did not know their child wasn’t fully immunized against the 5 common groups of meningococcal disease, unless they had both types of meningococcal vaccines.

Meningitis is an inflammation (swelling) of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord known as the meninges. This inflammation is usually caused by an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis is usually caused by bacteria or viruses, but can be a result of injury, cancer, or certain drugs.

Meningitis can lead to brain damage, hearing loss, learning disabilities and death. Septicemia is a bloodstream infection, which can lead to limb amputation or death.

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The disease is spread through close contact with someone’s saliva, such as through kissing or sharing eating or drinking utensils, especially with those who live in the same place, like in a college residence hall.

Symptoms include headache, fever and a stiff neck, sensitivity to light, confusion and difficulty concentrating.

Having meningitis doesn't always mean you have meningococcal disease. And having meningococcal disease doesn’t necessarily mean you have meningitis. Meningococcal disease is any infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis.

Meningococcal meningitis and septicemia are two common and serious infections caused by these bacteria.

There are five common groups of meningococcal disease. The first vaccine for the B strain was approved in 2014, and while not required as part of childhood immunizations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does recommend it for anyone ages 11 to 23.

The meningitis B strain accounts for 50 percent of all cases in those ages 17 to 23 in the United States.

Of those who become infected with meningitis, the CDC reports that 10 to 15 percent will die. Of those who survive, 20 percent will suffer from permanent disabilities such as brain damage, loss of limbs, hearing loss and other serious nervous system problems.

There are three types of meningococcal vaccines available in the United States:

The MCV4 vaccine protects against four strains of the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease. But does not protect against the B strain.

The current CDC vaccine price list can be found at this link.