SEAMAN DISTRICT -- As the school year approaches, the Seaman School District USD #345, is asking parents to make sure their children are fully vaccinated against all diseases, even if a particular immunization isn't required for school attendance. Nowhere is this more important than with the meningococcal meningitis vaccine. We are urging parents to ask their pediatrician or doctor about this vaccine when they take their child in for their annual immunization update.
August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), and we want parents to help us stamp out this deadly disease.
Meningococcal disease is a dangerous bacterial infection that can strike teenagers and college students. The disease can progress rapidly and within hours of the first symptoms, may result in death or permanent disability, including brain damage, organ failure, loss of hearing, and limb amputations. Research shows teenagers have an unusually high death rate; nearly one in four cases is fatal among this group.
The good news is a vaccine is available, and it is highly effective. However, unlike vaccines against diseases like polio, whooping cough, and the measles, the meningococcal meningitis vaccine is not required for school attendance. As a result of its voluntary status, doctors may not mention it during a child's annual checkup.
"This disease causes significant morbidity and mortality," said Seaman Health Services Director Mrs. Chris Tuck, R.N., "So it's important for parents to ask their pediatrician or doctor about it."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment both recommend children be immunized against the disease.
"The vaccine will eventually be required, it just isn't yet. The Chicken Pox vaccine took a while to become mandatory, too," said Tuck.
Students should first be vaccinated against the disease between ages 11 or 12, with a followup booster at age 16. Most private Health Insurance Companies and Kansas's Medicaid Program include the vaccine as part of their plans.