Vaccines for Teens
New shots may have been added to the immunization schedule since your teen started school. A good time to check your child's immunization status is before the start of middle school, high school, and before college.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recommend specific vaccines for teens (children between the ages of 11- 19) to protect them against infections that can cause severe illness or even death. One important vaccine for teens prevents meningococcal disease.
What is meningococcal disease?
Meningococcal disease is caused by Neisseria meningitidis bacteria. The two most common forms of
meningococcal disease are meningitis ( a bacterial infection of the fluid and covering of the spinal cord and
brain) and sepsis (an infection of the blood stream). Meningitis has other causes as well, the most common
being viral infection.
How are meningococcal bacteria spread?
The bacteria are transmitted during close person-to-person contact (such as kissing, sharing eating utensils or drinks , etc.) by secretions from the nose and throat. They are not spread by casual contact or by simply breathing the air near an infected person. The bacteria can live outside the body for only a few minutes; so if the germs contaminate a desk or book, they soon die.
How can I avoid getting meningococcal disease?
You can protect yourself by maintaining good health and hygiene. As a general recommendation, you should wash your hands frequently. Avoid sharing materials that make mouth contact, such as eating utensils, bottles, cigarettes, or lip balm. All persons should avoid smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke as both are risk factors for meningococcal disease. Contact a healthcare provider immediately if you are in close contact with someone who is known or suspected to have meningococcal infection.
Who should be vaccinated against meningococcal disease?
All persons aged 11 – 18 years should be vaccinated with 1 dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine
(MCV) at the earliest opportunity.
Did you know?
Rates for meningococcal disease rise during adolescence and peak between the ages of 15 to 24.
College freshmen who live in dorms are five times more likely to be infected with meningococcal disease, compared to others the same age.
Of those who contract meningococcal disease, 10 percent to 15 percent die and 11 percent to 19 percent suffer mental disabilities, hearing loss, seizures/strokes or the loss of arms or legs.
All Georgia colleges require students living in campus housing to document they have been vaccinated or that they have reviewed information about meningococcal disease.
For more information in Georgia contact:
Division of Public Health
2 Peachtree St.
Atlanta, GA 30303