Think about how many people we have the potential to interact with on a daily basis – in grocery stores, malls, post offices, schools, work offices, playgrounds, gyms, you name it. No matter how careful we may try to be to avoid germs and illnesses when out in public settings, and even in our own homes, we still have the possibility of being exposed to unforeseen infections, viruses, and diseases. From mild colds to more severe forms that can be dangerous to the health of our children, family, and others, we can come into contact with unknown carriers of any number of easily transmittable conditions (more than most realize). It’s the constant exposure and ease that germs can be shared that make us susceptible to dangerous illnesses and the main reason that vaccines are encouraged – to protect against those that can cause the most harm.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for regulating over-the-counter and prescription drugs. New prescription drugs must demonstrate safety and effectiveness before receiving approval, and this typically comes only after extensive research, studies, and trials prove its benefits for mass distribution and use on patients. Some drugs and vaccines can take many years before becoming FDA-approved, but ones that show great initial results in being able to prevent potentially life-threatening conditions are ones the Children’s Wellness Center pediatricians stay on top of. Bexsero – the newest FDA-approved meningitis B vaccine for children is one such drug that we now offer to our patients to prevent one of the leading causes of bacterial meningitis in the U.S. Here’s what you should know:
Meningitis, also known as meningococcal disease, is an inflammation of the meninges (a type of membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, creating a protective barrier for the central nervous system). It generally starts with an infection of some sort (it can be viral, bacterial, parasitic, or even fungal) and can strike without warning – to a person of any age, gender, or race. Infants less than one year old and those between the ages of 16-23 years old are at higher risk of contracting the meningococcal disease and it’s extremely easy to spread from person to person (including coughing, kissing, sharing food/drinks/utensils, and can lead to long-term damage, or worse, be fatal).
Bexsero is only the second FDA-approved meningitis B vaccine that protects a patient’s immune response (it’s a two-dose regimen that allows a flexible dosing schedule). Even with the treatment of antibiotics and quick medical attention, 20% of meningitis survivors suffer long-term injuries such as brain damage, kidney disease, or limb amputation, and as many as 12% of reported cases have resulted in fatalities. There hasn’t been a helpful treatment to come out yet, but Bexsero is currently one of the most effective ways to prevent meningitis B and lessen those risks of permanent damage/death – which is why we are excited to be able to offer it to our patients within our practice.
Meningitis vaccinations (like Menactra®, which is given at ages 11 and 16) are already a part of your child/teen’s vaccination schedule and now includes the latest addition of Bexsero. Teens age 16 and up receive two doses at least one month apart during their annual check-up. Bexsero treatments are covered by most insurance carriers but we recommend checking with your specific carrier first for details regarding your coverage.
Prevention is the key to getting ahead of meningitis and diminishing the potential harm it can do to our children’s health before it happens. If you’re interested in learning more about Bexsero, talk to your Children’s Wellness Center provider or give us a call at 404-303-1314 to schedule your child’s next visit with us. We certainly want them to have an enjoyable summer and want parents to have the peace of mind that their child is best protected each and every day as they grow with us!