Nurse’s Notes: Are Your Vaccinations Up-to-date?

syringe-1597515_1280The State of Arizona requires schools to complete and submit an immunization status report for their students each fall.  In the kindergarten age group immunization against measles is one of the primary indicators of community health.

In older students (6th grade), the State of Arizona requires evidence of immunization against meningococcal disease for school attendance. The National Meningitis Association provides a further explanation of meningococcal disease and why we immunize.

What is Meningococcal Disease?

Meningococcal disease, commonly known as meningococcal meningitis, affects approximately 1,500 Americans each year. Adolescents and young adults are at increased risk for contracting meningococcal disease compared to the general population, and account for nearly 15 percent of all cases in the U.S. Though rare, the disease comes on quickly and can lead to death or permanent disability, such as brain damage, hearing loss, loss of kidney function and limb amputations, within hours of first symptoms. The disease is often misdiagnosed, since early symptoms resemble the flu. Symptoms may include sudden high fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, exhaustion and sometimes a rash.

Why We Immunize

Though very strong antibiotics may be used to treat the infection, they are not always effective and immunization is the most effective means of preventing meningococcal disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends meningococcal vaccination for pre-teens at their pre-adolescent doctor’s visit (age 11-12 years). Vaccination is also recommended for those at increased risk for the disease. A full list of persons recommended for meningococcal vaccination is available on the CDC website.

If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact Nurse Shannon David in our health office at 480-967-5567.