April 19, 2010 at 10:19 am , by Emily Chau
The Health Ladies are trying something new today: a vlog. I talked with with Stan Block, M.D., professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the University of Louisville Medical School, and Paralympian Nick Springer about menigococcal disease, a scary illness that primarily attacks kids and teens. In all likelihood it’s the same disease that turned Helen Keller deaf and blind. However, in the grand scheme of things, she may have had it easy.
A bacterial infection of your brain and spinal cord, meningococcal disease can attack suddenly and leave you paralyzed or amputated—even dead. Of the approximately half a million people who contract the disease each year about 1 in 7 die. But numbers just tell half the story. Since I conducted this interview over the phone, it was only after I watched this video that I saw felt the full impact of just how devastating meningococcal disease can be.
Luckily, there’s a vaccine that can prevent your kids from getting this disease.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends teens (ages 11-18) get vaccinated—the earlier the better. It’s especially important for your child to receive the vaccine before going off to college as dorm living can increase her chance of contracting the disease. While some doctors routinely will administer the vaccine at your child’s 11-12 year old check-up, it’s always good to be proactive. Currently there are two vaccines available for teens: Menactra and Menveo.