Prevention

As the mother of a meningitis survivor I can speak first hand as to the physical devastation meningitis can cause to a perfectly healthy child... don't let this happen to your child. Prevent what's preventable. 

- Patsy Schanbaum, The J.A.M.I.E Group, USA

Preventing Meningitis

The best way to prevent meningitis is through vaccination. Second to clean drinking water and good hygiene, vaccines are the most effective way of preventing infectious diseases. Bacterial meningitis and septicaemia are examples of diseases where vaccination can be the difference between life and death or life-long disability. 

In its simplest sense, a vaccine helps to prevent an illness by increasing the body’s resistance to that illness. 

Vaccines prepare the immune system by exposing the body to a germ so that it is better able to fight an infection when it occurs. Vaccines contain either parts of a germ, live but weakened germs, or inactivated (dead) germs.

Keep reading to find additional information about vaccines and answers to commonly asked questions. 

Meningitis Vaccines Q&A

Vaccine Manufacture and Availability

1. What are vaccines made of?

Answer

2. How do vaccines work?

Answer

 3. Which vaccines can protect my child from bacterial meningitis?

Answer

4. Which vaccines can protect my child from viral meningitis?

Answer

5. Which causes/forms of meningitis have no vaccine?

Answer

6. Why does it take so long to develop a vaccine and why are they so expensive?

Answer

7.If unable to access a vaccine, what should you do? 

Answer

Vaccine Protection

 1. Who should get meningitis vaccines?

Answer

2. Does having meningitis and surviving mean that I am immune?

Answer

3. How quickly does a meningitis vaccine work?

Answer

4. How long does protection from a meningitis vaccine last

Answer

5. Do meningitis vaccines offer complete protection?

Answer

6. How effective are the meningitis vaccines currently in use?

Answer

7. How important is it to follow the recommended schedule?

Answer

Vaccine Safety

1. Are meningitis vaccines safe?

Answer

2. What are the side effects of meningitis vaccines?

Answer

3. Can vaccines overload the immune system of my child?

Answer

4. What are the risks of not vaccinating?

Answer

5.    Who should not receive vaccines? 

Answer

Other points on prevention

 

Risk factors and behaviours 

  • Seasonal factors can affect the incidence of bacterial meningitis. In temperate regions, the disease is more common in the winter and early spring. In Sub-Saharan Africa, outbreaks occur in the dry season.

  • Cases are more frequent in low income countries due to poverty, overcrowding, and lack of access to vaccines.

 

With meningococcal and Hib infections, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has contracted the disease within seven days before the onset is at increased risk of contracting it themselves. Preventative antibiotics are usually offered to close contacts. These reduce, but cannot eliminate, the risk of family members or other close contacts becoming ill.

Protective behaviours

Some behaviours can help protect individuals and communities. For instance: 

  • Washing hands thoroughly

  • Keeping surfaces clean 

  • Avoid sharing anything that has been in someone else’s mouth e.g. drink, cigarette etc.

  • Stopping smoking may lower the risk of spreading meningitis germs and is good for your health. Smoking increases the risk of being a carrier of meningitis bacteria.

General

1. Where can I get more information on vaccines?

Answer

Contact a CoMO Member in your country to find out what vaccines are available to you. 

The Meningitis Vaccines Q&A Resource was made for members by The Confederation of Meningitis Organisations (CoMO). All information has been verified by The CoMO Scientific Advisory Group and is accurate as of April 2020.

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