Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University.
Most types of meningitis are unpredictable and cannot be prevented. There are vaccines, however, against certain types of bacteria.
Hib vaccines are very safe and highly effective. It is a part of standard immunization for infants and children.
A vaccine against pneumococcal meningitis can also prevent other forms of infection. It is not effective in children younger than 2 years
of age but is recommended for all those older than 65 years of age and younger people with certain chronic medical conditions.
A vaccine against meningococcal meningitis is available in the U.S. It is routinely recommended for people 11 to 18 years
of age and for people at high risk for disease (like people with certain defects in the immune system). It is also used to control outbreaks in certain regions of the country, in overcrowded environments such as college dormitories, and as a preventive measure for travelers outside of the U.S. Information on regions for which this vaccine is recommended is available at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.