A few days ago, a friend of mine, who also happens to be a mother, asked me whether my girl was vaccinated against meningococcal meningitis. To be honest, I had no idea because I didn’t know what kind of disease and vaccine she was talking about. And then my first question to her was what kind of vaccine this was, as I had no clue about this disease. Maybe it was due to lack of communication between me and my child’s pediatrician or maybe due to lack of awareness programs run by the government. It could also have been because this vaccine is not listed in the National Immunization Program run by our government. My friend then told me about this life-threatening disease and explained to me why I should get my child vaccinated against it.
A Mother always wants best for her child and when it comes to protecting her child, she will leave no stone unturned. Being a mother, I did thorough research about meningococcal meningitis and got to know how severe this bacterial disease could be and why it was important to have my child vaccinated against this.
So What Is Meningococcal Meningitis (MM)?
Meningococcal meningitis(MM) is a serious and deadly disease that results in inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and the spinal cord. Meningitis may develop in response to a number of causes, usually bacteria or viruses.
MM is a rapidly progressing disease, a disease that can kill the child in less than 24-48 hours and even if recovered, it can sometimes lead to serious complications such as brain damage, hearing loss or learning disabilities (1).
The early symptoms of the disease can be misleading as they are flu-like in nature (e.g. irritability, fever, loss of appetite), making diagnosis difficult. It is important to react quickly as the disease can lead to death in less than 24 hours. Classic signs of meningococcal meningitis include fever, headache, and stiff neck. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, photophobia (being sensitive to light) and confusion.
Protecting Your Child Against MM
My child, who is around 2-and-a-half-years old, goes to the school where she meets and plays with a number of other students who are the same age as her. She also participates in outdoor activities and gets exposed to different bacteria and infections too. Therefore, I want my child to be protected in every possible way to prevent her from contracting any kind of bacterial or viral infections.
Therefore, I consulted my child’s pediatrician and he told me about the different vaccines available to fight these bacteria. One among them was MCV – Meningococcal conjugate vaccine. It works against bacteria which is responsible for meningococcal meningitis (MM). He told me it should be offered in the form of 2 doses, first given to babies after they turn 9-months-old.
While doing my research, I got to know that MCV is still an optional vaccine due to the low incidence of meningococcal meningitis, hence it not a part of the routine immunization program but it is equally important to get your child vaccinated against this too. The cost of the vaccine is high, but given the deadly nature of this disease, it is of utmost importance that you get your child vaccinated against MM.
I would request you to first consult your child’s pediatrician and discuss with him about getting your child ( who should be at least two years old) vaccinated against MM. Doing this would help you safeguard your child.
I want to request all the parents who are reading this post to understand the importance of getting their child vaccinated against MM. I also want to urge them to share this valuable piece of information with other parents. Because just as I wasn’t aware of this, there are chances that many other parents may not be aware of it too.
Author: Mala Tulsani
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the blog content are independent and unbiased views of solely the blogger. This is a part of a public awareness initiative on meningitis supported by Sanofi Pasteur India. Sanofi Pasteur bears no responsibility for the content of the blog. One should consult their healthcare provider for any health-related information.
This article is meant to help create awareness and spread knowledge. Any decision regarding your health and child’s health should be taken after consultation with your doctor. Read my full disclosure here. While all efforts are made to keep articles updated, the speed of research in these fields mean the information often may change when more research knowledge is available. The blog or the author should be in no way held responsible in that case.
Written after consultation and discussion with Dr. Abhijit Misra (MD Pediatrician – Healthwealthbridge board of advisors)