Jeff City Officials Urge Meningitis Vaccine for Students

1 decade 2 years 8 months ago Monday, March 06 2006 Mar 6, 2006 Monday, March 06, 2006 5:54:46 PM CST March 06, 2006 in News

School nurse Becky Bruemmer had 15 phone calls from worried parents last weekend, after Friday's announcement that bacterial meningitis had struck a student at Simonsen Ninth Grade Center.

"They're concerned, that, you know, 'What should I think?' she said. "You know, was their child exposed to this child?"

And, to complicate matters, Cole County health officials changed their diagnosis.

"They had taken a blood culture vs. spinal fluid culture, and so that's how the diagnosis became different, then, on Saturday," added Bruemmer. "Then, it was reversed to a diagnosis of meningococcal disease."

Health officials are offering a solution in the form of a vaccine, Menactra, which is a one-time shot that costs $90.

"The new vaccine is what we call a conjugate vaccine, which means it will probably have longer effects," explained Dr. Brian Conley. "It may also help with what we call 'hurt immunity,' it may protect other members in the community from the infection."

Health officials said they can get plenty of vaccine, although it's not foolproof.

"It protects against four of the seral groups of meningococcal disease. Four of the most common are in there," noted Jane Hubbs of the Cole County Health Department. "The important thing to remember is that one of the most common is not, so people would still want to be observant even if the child has the vaccine on board."

Private insurance companies and a vaccines for children program can cover the cost of the vaccine.

Health officials said symptoms are the same for meningenial cocchyl disease and bacterial meningitis, including fever or severe and sudden headache, nausea or vomiting, stiff neck or pain in the shoulders and back, or a red, pin-point rash. Adults should watch for high fever and irritability in young children.

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