At Westchester Health Pediatrics, we wanted to share this important health update with you:

This year, the Menactra vaccine will be required for all students entering 7th and 12th grade in New York State. All 7th graders need to have had at least one dose and all 12th graders need two doses before school starts this fall.

We know that many of our parents are unsure about their children’s vaccination schedule and specifically if their Menactra vaccines are up-to-date. A quick call to your pediatrician’s office can get you that information; for a list of our offices and their phone numbers, click here. If you don’t have a pediatrician, call (914) 228-0330 and we can help you choose one.

Book now to get your child vaccinated before September

Lauren Adler_02R WEB72

Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP

For a lot of people, life slows down in the summer but for us at Westchester Health Pediatrics it’s very busy! With camp physicals and back-to-school checkups, plus our normal schedule of appointments, we get booked up quickly. That’s why we’re urging all our parents to book appointments now for the Menactra vaccine, as well as for their child’s annual physical (for school or camp), if needed.

What is the Menactra vaccine and what does it protect against?

The Menactra vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine that helps protect against certain strains of meningococcal disease, including some types of meningococcal meningitis and meningococcal sepsis. (There is another vaccine, Bexsero, that protects against meningitis B strains.) Meningococcal disease is rare but very serious, and teenagers and young adults are more prone to getting the disease.

Some facts about meningococcal meningitis:

  • 1 in 5 survivors suffers brain damage, amputations, kidney damage and other serious health issues
  • As many as 1 in 8 people who get the disease die from it
  • The disease can kill a child in just 24 hours
  • It’s difficult to diagnose because most common symptoms (fever, headache and muscle pain) are similar to those of the flu

Meningococcal meningitis symptoms

Similar to the flu, the symptoms of meningitis can occur suddenly and include:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Stiff neck or other muscle pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Confusion
  • Rash
  • Seizures

If your child has these symptoms — especially if he/she has been around someone with meningitis — contact a doctor immediately. When it comes to treating this potentially deadly disease, speed is of the essence.

How meningococcal meningitis spreads

Meningococcal disease spreads just like the flu, passing from person to person through everyday activities. Some people who carry the bacteria never get sick, so they might pass it to others without even realizing it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teenagers and young adults are most likely to get meningitis. The following activities put this age group at greater risk:

  • Living in close quarters, such as college dormitories
  • Being in crowded situations for prolonged periods of time
  • Sharing drinking glasses, water bottles or eating utensils
  • Kissing
  • Smoking or being exposed to smoke
  • Staying out late and having irregular sleeping patterns, which weakens the immune system

If you think your child may have meningitis, please come in and see us IMMEDIATELY

If your child is exhibiting any of the above-mentioned symptoms, or a combination of them, and you’re worried that it might be meningitis, please contact us at Westchester Health Pediatrics as soon as possible to see one of our pediatricians. We’ll examine your child, determine if in fact it is meningitis, and begin treatment right away.

By Lauren Adler, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician with Westchester Health Pediatrics.