Meningitis and Possible Vaccine Side Effects

The meningitis vaccine is one of the “school shots” that your college or university may have you take. In some cases, it is optional, especially if you don’t live in a dorm.


Meningitis is an inflammatory condition that affects the membrane surrounding the spinal cord and brain, and sometimes the cerebral and spinal fluids as well.

Meningitis is primarily caused by viral infections. A secondary cause is bacterial and, in rare instances, fungal. The bacteria associated with meningitis are usually found in the body and mostly harmless, but when they enter the bloodstream and travel to the spinal membrane and fluids, they present the risk factors from which meningitis can arise. And usually it does.

Meningitis is highly communicable, and is generally transmitted through body fluids.

Once meningitis begins affecting the body, it can oftentimes be easily overlooked, as the symptoms of meningitis are nearly identical to flu-like symptoms. These include high fever, nausea, vomiting and severe headache.

Other symptoms of meningitis are confusion and inability to focus, loss of appetite, sensitivity to light, and stiffness in the neck. Speech and motor reflexes can become severely limited and, if left untreated, can result in death. Respiratory systems can also be affected if untreated.

There are currently two types of vaccines available in the U.S. to fight meningitis. The first is Meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (MPSV4), and the second is Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4).

MPSV4 has been in use longer, and side effects are few. It lasts up to three years, and protects about 85 percent of all the children and teens vaccinated with it.

MCV4 lasts a bit longer, up to four years, and stems the known bacteria that carry the disease. This is the preferred treatment for the more adult and elderly patients.

Possible side effects are usually mild, and similar to common side effects of most medical vaccines. This includes redness or pain at the injection site and mild fever. It can be reduced with many common anti-inflammatory medicines and usually lasts no more than two days.

More severe reactions can be deadly, and should be reported to a physician immediately! They are difficulty breathing, wheezing, hives, pale complexion, dizziness and rapid or irregular heartbeat. Again, such symptoms should be reported to a qualified medical practitioner IMMEDIATELY!


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