How Can You Prevent Meningitis in Children?
Specific vaccines are available to protect and reduce the chances of developing both the bacterial and viral types of meningitis. The antibacterial vaccines include Hib, meningococcal, and pneumococcal and the antiviral vaccines include influenza, varicella, polio, measles, and mumps. Two tables show the CDC recommended vaccines for infants and children up to age 18 as of 2014 (most recent available) that include those that protect or reduce the chances for certain bacterial and viral meningitis infections and other infections. For details, please see the two tables found at these two CDC sites listed below:
For details on the above two tables, pleases see the following link to the CDC site: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html
Vaccines against Hib and S. pneumoniae have markedly reduced the number of infected children. Also, if a child has not obtained vaccination against N. meningitidis, in some states they will not be allowed to attend college classes until they prove they are vaccinated.
Antibiotics are given to all intimate contacts of a child with meningococcal meningitis, a very specific type of bacterial meningitis. These intimate contacts may include family members, friends, health-care workers, and even day-care or nursery contacts. Adults can contract this type of meningitis and become carriers of these bacteria. If adults have been given preventive antibiotics and then become sick or develop any symptoms, they need a full medical evaluation. Preventive antibiotics are not needed for cases of viral meningitis or with other types of bacterial meningitis except for some relatives or caregivers who are caring for patients with Hib infections.
Vaccine side effects vary from none to transient pain or discomfort at the inoculation site. Some children may develop a mild fever, headache, and feel tired. In most individuals who get these side effects, Tylenol can reduce the discomfort. These effects rarely last more than 24 hours. Infrequently, some children may develop more severe allergic reactions (swelling, short of breath, Guillain-Barré syndrome); these individuals should not be given the vaccine. Consultation with a pediatric specialist (allergy and/or infectious disease) is recommended.