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Meningitis Vaccine Available, But Few Know of it
Akron Beacon Journal;
Wheeler, Tracy


A vaccine for meningitis, called Menomune is available, yet no national public health agencies--including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), or the American College Health Association--has recommended universal application. Instead, according to Dr. Blaise Congeni, director of infectious disease at Children's Hospital Medical Center of Akron, the national health organizations advocate that parents and college-bound students be made aware of the risks and the availability of the vaccine. The reasons for the United States not requiring universal vaccination may stem from the relative rarity of the disease in this country. Annually, meningitis only strikes about 3,000 people out of a nationwide population of 281 million. In addition, because the disease is most likely to strike before a child is two years old and then again between the ages of 15 and 24, universal vaccination could mean a supply shortage for college-bound students. [Meningococcal polysaccharide vaccines generally induce a sub-optimal immune response in children less than two years of age.] A study conducted by the AAP concluded that vaccinating 300,000 to 500,000 college freshmen would avert between 15 and 30 cases of meningococcal disease and would prevent one to three deaths from the disease.

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