Warren Seigel, MD, explains the facts about Menactra Vaccine for Meningocococcal Infections
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Male1: This time of the year, pediatricians are filling in a lot of forms for kids to go to college and there is a little question in the air. Did your kid get this vaccine against meningococcal meningitis. Why are they insisting a point? Is this is a conspiracy? Male2: Meningitis is probably the scariest word that any parent can hear. Meningitis is a bacterial infection that invades the spinal cord and can go up to the brain. Meningitis is actually an infection of the brain and meningococcal disease which is a specific type of bacteria is very, very common in teenagers and young adults. In fact, there is about 3000 adolescents and young adults that develop meningococcal disease every year. There is a fairly new vaccine, naturally it has been helpful for quite a while. We have known about meningococcal disease for many, many years, but we finally have a vaccine that could prevent it from getting meningococcal disease. The vaccine only protects against four types of meningitis, four types of meningococcal disease, so it is not a hundred percent, but the recommendation right now is for all teenagers at eleven or 12 and certainly, for teenagers who are going off to college specifically those who are living in dormitories receive this vaccine to decrease the likelihood that they are going to get meningococcal disease—meningitis. Male1: Is this vaccine safe? Male2: It is very, very safe. It is costly, but most insurance companies do pay for this vaccine. The trade name is called Menactra, but it is safe. You can get some local irritation at the inoculation site. About two years ago, there was a question about a disease called Guillain Barre Syndrome, which is a disease that can have devastating complications like paralysis. Since the American Academy of Pediatrics and pediatricians have been looking at this issue, we now know that Menactra or the meningococcal vaccine does not necessarily lead to the Guillain Barre Syndrome. Male1: But there is a pocket of benign cases. Male2: However, there have been reports of kids developing this disease, but we believe that the vaccine is still safe, but parents need to discuss with their pediatrician the risk of Guillian Barre Syndrome and make sure that that vaccine is appropriate for them. It should not necessarily be given to everybody. In fact, there are some patients, teenagers and young adults that they should not receive this vaccine. Male1: And Guillain Barre cases, at least the impression that most people have now, they are sporadic and it seems, it was not really increased if you took a hundred thousand kids vaccinated and the adults and kids that were not vaccinated, the number of cases were probably about the same, but there was a little pocket, I think around Maryland or some place. Male2: That is absolutely true. If you look at the incidence of Guillain Barre Syndrome in the general population, there probably is no higher incidence in those kids who received the vaccine, but I think this is an important discussion that every parent has to have with their pediatrician. To determine if they want to have this vaccine for their teenager or young adult, especially those going off to college who are going to be living in dormitories or those who are in the military. It is real important to have that discussion to determine if you want to have that vaccine. Male1: Well, New York State if the kid goes to overnight camp for several days, the State of New York wants the kids to have that vaccine? Male2: That is absolutely true. If you are going to a camp, a sleep away camp where you are going to be spending more than seven days, you need to have this vaccine, however, if you and your pediatrician decide that there is a contraindication or the parent refuses, there are many camps that will still allow the child to participate in the overnight camp. So again, I think that the discussion is important to have with your pediatrician. Male1: And you should talk about t

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