Menactra is a new vaccine that offers protection against the meningococcal bacteria, one of the leading causes of bacterial meningitis in children.
It is supposed to provide better and more longer lasting protection than the Menomune, an older meningococcal vaccine.
According to the CDC:
"About 2,600 people get meningococcal disease each year in the U.S. 10 to 5 percent of these people die, in spite of treatment with antibiotics. Of those who live, another 11 to 19 percent lose their arms or legs, become deaf, have problems with their nervous systems, become mentally retarded, or suffer seizures or strokes.
Anyone can get meningococcal disease. But it is most common in infants less than one year of age and people with certain medical conditions, such as lack of a spleen. College freshmen who live in dormitories have an increased risk of getting meningococcal disease.
Meningococcal infections can be treated with drugs such as penicillin. Still, about 1 out of every ten people who get the disease dies from it, and many others are affected for life. This is why preventing the disease through use of meningococcal vaccine is important for people at highest risk."
Menactra is recommended for all children at their routine preadolescent visit (11 to 12 years of age). For those who have never gotten a meningococcal vaccine (either Menactra or Menomune) previously, a dose is recommended at high school entry.
Other adolescents who want to decrease their risk of meningococcal disease can also get the vaccine.
Meningococcal vaccine is also recommended for other people at increased risk for meningococcal disease:
- College freshmen living in dorms.
- Microbiologists who are routinely exposed to meningococcal bacteria.
- U.S. military recruits.
- Anyone traveling to, or living in, a part of the world where meningococcal disease is common, such as parts of Africa.
- Anyone who has a damaged spleen, or whose spleen has been removed.
- Anyone who has terminal complement component deficiency (an immune system disorder).
- People who might have been exposed to meningitis during an outbreak.
Menactra is the preferred vaccine for people 11 to 55 years of age in these risk groups, but Menomune can be used if Menactra is not available. Menomune should be used for children 2 to 10 years old, and adults over 55, who are at risk.
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