This post is sponsored by GSK and its public health awareness campaign, “Ask2BSure”.
My children are 16, almost 14, and 11. As they get older, I must make sure I am aware of possible health issues and take preventive measures. At my oldest child’s most recent well child visit, I made a point to ask if we were up to date on vaccinations. Our doctor informed us that our son needed his second dose of the meningitis vaccination (to help protect against meningitis groups A,C,W and Y). Because I had been informed that there is also meningitis B vaccination through working with GSK’s “Ask2Bsure” campaign, I knew to ask my doctor about it and he told us it was available if we wanted to have my son get it. He recommended it, but gave us a choice. We had a discussion and we decided to go forward with having our son get meningitis B vaccination.
I was so happy that I knew to ask about this and I want to make sure you, dear readers, ask your child/children’s healthcare provider about meningitis B vaccination – “Ask2Bsure”.
If you aren’t aware, meningococcal disease, known as meningitis, is an uncommon, but serious illness that can cause life-threatening complications, or even death.1 What I didn’t know is that early symptoms of meningitis may be similar to those of the flu, but can progress quickly and can be fatal, sometimes within 24 hours.2,3 Meningitis is caused by bacteria carried in the nose or back of the throat and can spread through saliva and close contact. 1 And even scarier – meningitis can attack the lining of the brain and spinal cord and, in some cases cause a serious infection of the blood (sepsis).4 While anyone can get meningitis, rates of the disease reach a peak in adolescence, with the highest rates among teens and young adults 16 – 23 years old.5
These are the symptoms to watch out for: Sudden high fever, severe headache, body aches and chills, stiff neck and a dark purple rash (typically on the torso, arms or legs).3
There are Two Different Types of Meningitis Vaccination
I consider myself an educated person and parent, yet I was so surprised that I didn’t know that there are two different types of vaccinations needed to help protect against the 5 vaccine-preventable groups of meningitis (one for groups A, C, W, and Y and another for group B). Meningitis B vaccination has only been available since 20146, so it’s not something I would have even known about – my oldest was 9 years old back then.
In three years, my son will be in college and I am glad to know that I’ve helped protect him against meningitis through vaccinations. Colleges are environments prone to the spread of meningitis B: From 2011 through March 2019, meningitis B caused all US college meningococcal outbreaks, which involved 13 campuses, 50 cases, and 2 deaths among an at-risk population of approximately 253,000 students.8
Has your child gotten their vaccinations?
Our children have already gotten a bunch of vaccinations and when my children were under 5, I admit I paid more attention to knowing exactly what vaccinations they had, as opposed to the teen years. Many of our teens and young adults may have gotten a meningitis vaccination for groups A, C, W and Y when they were 11-12 years old with a booster at 16, but recent CDC data show that 7 out of 10 17-year-olds in the U.S. did not receive even one dose of meningitis B vaccination in 2020.2,3
Start the conversation with your child’s doctor to Ask2Bsure about meningitis B vaccination.
The more informed you are, the better equipped you will be to initiate important vaccine conversations with your child’s health care provider and make educated decisions. For more information, go to Ask2BSure.com or check out this short YouTube Video that explains it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9k9xH6ps9M (EMBED). Note: For each view of the video, GSK will donate $1, up to $10,000, to the Meningitis B Action Project, a project that was started by two mothers who lost their daughters to meningitis B and are now on a mission to educate fellow parents. Views will be counted through December 31st, 2021.
1 – Manual for the Surveillance of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases: Chapter 8: Meningococcal Disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/surv-manual/chpt08-mening.html. Reviewed December 2019. Accessed November 2020.
2 – Pelton SI. Meningococcal disease awareness: clinical and epidemiological factors affecting prevention and management in adolescents. J Adolesc Health. 2010;46:S9-S15
3 – Meningococcal Disease: Signs and Symptoms. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. https://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/about/symptoms.html. Updated June 2017. Accessed November 2020.
4 – Meningococcal Disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. https://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/index.html. Updated January 2020. Accessed November 2020.
5- Meningococcal Disease: Clinical Information. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. https://www.cdc.gov/meningococcal/clinical-info.html. Reviewed May 31, 2019. Accessed November 2020.
6 – CDC. Vaccines and Preventable Diseases. Meningococcal Vaccination for Adolescents: Information for Healthcare Professionals. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/mening/hcp/adolescent-vaccine.html. Accessed April 2021.
7 – 1 – National, Regional, State, and Selected Local Area Vaccination Coverage Among Adolescents Aged 13–17 Years — United States, 2019. 2020; 69(33). Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/pdfs/mm6933-H.pdf. Reviewed August 21, 2020. Accessed November 2020.
8 – Gary S Marshall, Amanda F Dempsey, Amit Srivastava, Raul E Isturiz, US College Students Are at Increased Risk for Serogroup B Meningococcal Disease, Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society,piz024, https://doi.org/10.1093/jpids/piz024