Meningococcal vaccines now available for students

Courtesy of ERMC Public Affairs

Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe students who have not received the meningococcal MCV4 vaccine can start rolling up their sleeves.

Army hospitals and clinics under the Europe Regional Medical Command have sufficient supplies on hand to vaccinate children ages 11 to 18 who still need the shot. Schools will expect students to receive the vaccine within a reasonable amount of time, normally about two weeks.  Parents should contact their local health clinics about dates and times to have children vaccinated.

The DODDS-Europe requirement is in concert with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent recommendation to vaccinate young adolescents with MCV4 at the pre-adolescent visit (11 to 12 years old).

An advisory committee to the CDC recommends the MCV4 vaccination for children 11 to 12 years old “as an effective strategy to reduce meningococcal disease incidence in adolescents and young adults.”  The CDC would like to see all adolescents vaccinated within three years.

The MCV4 vaccine helps protect children against bacteria that cause different types of meningococcal diseases commonly called meningitis. Bacteria live in the nose and throat areas and individuals spread bacteria by sneezing or touching surfaces sprayed with nose secretions. 

The National Meningitis Association says meningitis is also spread through coughing, kissing, and sharing cigarettes, utensils, cups, lipstick, or balm – anything an infected person touches with his or her mouth.

Washing hands frequently and disinfecting surfaces and soiled articles are the best methods of preventing transmission of the disease.

ERMC preventive medicine officials advise parents to be alert during the coming flu season, since flu and meningitis symptoms are similar.

The CDC’s Web site lists the following symptoms to distinguish between flu and meningitis: high fever, headache, and stiff neck are common symptoms of meningitis in anyone over the age of two years.  These symptoms can develop over several hours, or they may take one to two days.  Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, discomfort looking into bright lights, confusion, and sleepiness.

In newborns and small infants, the classic symptoms of fever, headache, and neck stiffness may be absent or difficult to detect, and the infant may only appear slow or inactive, or be irritable, have vomiting, or be feeding poorly.  As the disease progresses, patients of any age may have seizures.

Flu vaccination dates announced

Flu vaccination clinics will be held periodically through December in a variety of KMC locations. Beneficiaries are reminded to bring yellow shot records to document immunizations.

The Ramstein Immunizations clinic will give flu shots from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 4 and 5 at the old Southside gymnasium. The Ramstein clinic has also scheduled mobile flu vaccination clinics for most large units with more than 90 people; check with the unit deployment manager to find out where the mobile clinic will be. For more information, call 479-2234/2549.

At Kleber Kaserne, the current vaccine supplies have been exhausted.  All flu clinics are cancelled until more vaccine arrives, which is expected to happen on or about Monday. The Kleber Clinic staff will keep the community informed of any changes to the incoming vaccine supply.

Landstuhl Regional Medical Center will give flu shots to eligible beneficiaries 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Wednesday at the LRMC Learning Center.

Approximately 10 to 20 percent of Americans get the flu each year. The best way to avoid getting the flu is to get the influenza vaccine each fall, before the flu season.