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BY DR. BENARD DREYER
It was late afternoon on a Friday when I got the call that there was a 5-year-old child with pneumococcal meningitis in the emergency room that needed to be admitted to the hospital. It was the first case like this that I had seen in many years. Meningitis is an infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord, and pneumococcus is one of the bacteria that commonly caused meningitis in children before we started immunizing them with the pneumococcal vaccine in 2000.
Immunizations are not just for children. Protection from some childhood vaccines can wear off over time. You may also be at risk for vaccine-preventable disease due to your job, lifestyle, travel, or health conditions. Every year thousands of adults in the U.S. still suffer serious health problems, are hospitalized, and even die due to diseases for which vaccines are available. Here are the vaccines you need as an adult. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The use of vaccines has led to major improvements in child health over a relatively short period. Many of the infectious illnesses you or your parents had as children, from chickenpox to polio to measles, no longer affect most children today. If you follow the immunization guidelines recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), you can help make your child healthier than was ever possible in earlier generations.
Make sure your preteen and teen get the meningococcal conjugate vaccine for protection against meningococcal disease, a very serious illness where death can occur in as little as a few hours. The meningococcal conjugate vaccine is recommended at 11–12 years of age and a booster dose at age 16.