Meningococcal disease refers to any infection or illness caused by the bacteria Neisseria Meningitidis also termed as meningococcus. The meningococcal disease is a highly infectious and severe disease that can prove to be fatal if timely antibiotic treatment is not sought. The Neisseria Meningitidis is spread from person to person through respiratory and throat secretions like spit, coughing, sneezing on someone or in some cases through close and prolonged contact with an infected person. The Meningococcal disease although deadly, can be prevented by means of Meningococcal vaccine.
Meningococcal disease is quite hard to identify as it manifests itself in different forms depending upon which part of the body the Neisseria Meningitidis bacteria affects. In some case the Meningococcal disease affects the brain and spinal cord of a person and is called Meningococcal Meningitis, while in some cases the Meningococcal disease affects the blood and is called by the name Meningococcal Septicaemia or Meningococcemia. In a few rare cases the Meningococcal disease affects both the blood and the brain and nervous system of a person.
The Meningococcal disease mainly affects babies under 1 year of age and teens and young adults through the age group 16 to 23 years of age. However, anyone with weak immunity and /or anyone exposed to the outbreak of this disease can fall victim to this disease.
Meningococcal Meningitis is a bacterial form of meningitis. It is a serious infection that causes the meninges or the membranes surrounding the brain and the spinal cord to get inflamed and irritated. Meningococcal Meningitis is the result of the bacteria entering the cerebrospinal fluid that circulates within the central nervous system. People who survive this disease are often left with permanent disabilities like deafness, brain injury and other neurological problems. The common symptoms of the disease are;
Meningococcal Meningitis is a pretty grim disease, as many people who survive this disease are left with permanent disabilities and as such the best approach towards this disease is getting Meningococcal Vaccination that has the capability to prevent the disease.
Meningococcal Vaccine is a powerful tool against the fight against the Meningococcal diseases and is nearly 85 to 100% effective in providing protection against the disease for a period of two years. The Neisseria Meningitidis bacteria are classified into 13 serogroups out of which 6 strains ABCWY and X are primarily responsible for all meningococcal diseases in humans and the various vaccines counter all 5 strains of the bacteria except serogroup X which has no vaccination up till now. The Meningococcal Vaccine is administered by means of an injection shot just under the skin or in a muscle. There are three types of Meningococcal Vaccine available i.e. – two Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine (MCV – 4), one polysaccharide vaccine (MPSV – 4) and one serogroup B Meningococcal B vaccine. All these vaccines offer protection against 4 types of meningococcal disease.
The Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine is a combination vaccine that protects the person from serogroups A, C, W and Y strains of infection caused by the meningococcus bacteria. It offers protection for a longer period of time and works by exposing the person to a small dose of the bacteria or the bacteria protein, which results in the body developing immunity against the bacteria and the resulting disease. The Meningococcal Vaccine does not provide protection in a person who has already developed active meningococcal infection. The Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine is safe to be administered in children and adults falling in the age group of 9 months to 55 years of age.
This type of vaccine also provides the same protection as the other meningococcal meningitis vaccine, except the fact that it is the only known vaccine that can be given to people above 55 years of age.
This vaccine can be used among people in the age group 10 to 24 years or age and also to older people
The standard meningococcal vaccine schedule defines the meningococcal vaccine age for all children to be age 11 – 12 years for the first dose of the meningococcal meningitis vaccine – MCV4 and a booster shot to be given at the age of 16 -18 years of age.
As with any vaccination the risk of meningococcal vaccine side effects are also always there, but the side effects are milder. Some of the common side effects of meningococcal meningitis vaccination are as follows;
The meningococcal vaccine price varies with the type of vaccine being used, the brand and the dosage of the vaccine. Usually the meningococcal vaccine cost is found to average in between 500 to 5000 INR. Although the meningococcal vaccine cost can be little on the higher side, the benefit it provides far outweighs its cost.