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Meningococcal Meningitis

As of July 2005 schools in Washington are required to provide information on meningococcal disease to parents or guardians of all students entering grades 6-12.

Meningococcal disease is a serious infection of the brain (meningitis) and blood caused by bacteria. Fortunately, this life-threatening infection is rare - - only about 75 people are infected each year in Washington. Adolescents and young adults are most likely to get meningococcal disease, especially those living in-group settings such as college dorms.

The Department of Health wants you to be aware of meningococcal disease and how you can protect your child against it. A vaccine is available that can prevent up to 65 percent of meningococcal disease among adolescents and young adults. The vaccine recommended for all children 11-12 years. It is also recommended for unvaccinated teens age 15 years and college freshmen that will be living in a dorm. The meningococcal vaccine is required in certain states college attendance.

Here are some other ways to prevent the spread of meningococcal disease:
  • Practice good hygiene (regular hand washing, covering coughs and sneezes, etc.)
  • Do not share items that may spread meningococcal disease and other bacteria and viruses, such as eating utensils, glasses, cups, water bottles, drinks, lip-gloss or toothbrushes.