Vaccination against meningitis usually means protection against meningococci. Meningococci are bacteria with the scientific name Neisseria meningitidis. They occur all over the world and, if infected, cause purulent meningitis (bacterial meningitis) or blood poisoning (sepsis) out.

Children under the age of 5 and adolescents are most susceptible to infection. Children between the ages of 1 and 2 and adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19 are particularly affected.
There are various subgroups (serogroups) among bacteria to which the vaccine is adapted. In Europe and especially in Germany, for example, meningococci of serogroup C occur particularly frequently, which is why protection against these bacteria is particularly important.
In addition to vaccination against meningococci, there are also vaccines against the pathogen Haemophilus influenzae type B and the TBE (Early summer meningoencephalitis), which can also trigger meningitis.

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The vaccination prevents the majority of all children from being infected with meningococci and thus also all accompanying and consequential damage that can be caused by the disease. Especially if there is a delay in therapy, it can otherwise lead to severe courses, in which the children, for example Developmental disorders or suffer from paralysis.
A meningococcal infection is a dangerous disease that, despite good medical care in Germany, is still common Can lead to death. In order to reduce this risk, the aim should be to vaccinate all children as completely as possible.

How often does the vaccination need to be given and boosted?

In Germany, a vaccine is used that contains parts of the outer shell of the bacterium and thus sensitizes the immune system to the pathogen. A so-called immunological memory is formed during administration. This means that the immune system remembers the components of the vaccine and thus also of the pathogen and, if it occurs repeatedly, can immediately build defense cells against the meningococci.

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Find out more about the topic here: Meningococcal vaccination

Because of this memory, only one vaccine dose is necessary to build up effective protection against the infection. The vaccination protection is active no later than two weeks after administration and usually does not need to be refreshed afterwards. The exception is people with a weakened immune system or a spleen disease. Their vaccination protection should be checked regularly and renewed if necessary. Other subgroups of the meningococcal type are circulating in other parts of the world.

In the case of high-risk patients, re-vaccination with a vaccine that covers even more subgroups is useful if you want to travel abroad.
The vaccination against meningitis can be given from 12 months of age.

Read more about this at: Why should I have my child vaccinated?

Vaccination against meningitis in babies, toddlers and children

Vaccination against meningitis is recommended from the age of 12 months.

The vaccination against meningococcal disease has been in place since 2006 Meningitis in the baby Part of the STIKO vaccination recommendations (Standing Vaccination Committee, responsible office). The vaccination is traditionally given to babies from the age of 12 months.
That is the reason for the one-year waiting period immune system of the children. In order for a so-called immunological memory to be built up, the immune system must first develop. Memory is spoken symbolically and means that certain cells of the immune system memorize the structures of the bacteria that are contained in the vaccine in an inactivated form. If the pathogen re-enters the body, immune cells can be produced directly and the infection does not break out or only slightly (e.g. in the form of a cold).

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From the age of one year, the vaccination can be given at any time, provided there is no intolerance.
Since meningococcal infection with associated meningitis is most likely to affect babies and toddlers between the ages of one and two years, as well as adolescents, is a early vaccination protection highly recommended. Basically it is up to the age of 18 free of charge possible to catch up with the meningococcal vaccination if it has been missed to date.

From the age of 18, the statutory health insurance may require you to share the costs, but the insurance companies often cover the entire amount, especially for young adults.
It is advisable to have the vaccination carried out as part of the regular examinations by the pediatrician in the first years of life so that it is not forgotten.

There are few differences when it comes to vaccinating babies, toddlers, or children. Protection is built up equally well at every age and the Side effects the vaccination are mostly localized. Only extremely rarely do stronger side effects occur, see below "Side effects of the vaccination against meningitis".

A factor that is usually negligible, but can certainly be included in the vaccination planning, is the psychological impact of the vaccination on the child. In babies or toddlers, most children hardly ever get the injection and do not fight back much. At such an early point in time, there are usually no memories stuck, and one later Doctor or syringe phobia could condition. In childhood, the awareness of the young patient is sharpened and the vaccination as well as the doctor's visit can be associated with pain.

This attitude can cause great problems in the further health care of the young person. Even if such events are rare, vaccination at an early stage can prevent them.

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Side effects of vaccination against meningitis

The side effects of vaccination are often limited to a local reaction. As the body's immune system is activated, the area where the injection was given may become slightly swollen and red. Mild to moderate pain, especially with pressure, is not uncommon.

Brief hardening of the tissue is also a normal reaction of the body. Since foreign substances are administered, there is sometimes a classic defense reaction with the symptoms of a mild cold. General symptoms such as increased temperature, headaches, increased irritability and occasional loss of appetite with nausea and vomiting can occur. The general feeling of illness often brings with it a basic tiredness, joint and limb pain, as is often the case with colds. This reaction of the body is not dangerous and is completely natural.

Read more on the topic: Vaccination side effects

Only very rarely do stronger side effects occur, but even if they occur they are more tolerable than the onset of meningococcal meningitis. Corresponding side effects are swelling and rashes, hives, muscle stiffness and chills.

The absolute exceptions include allergic vaccination reactions, which can also lead to febrile seizures, dizziness and short-term impaired consciousness and vision. Even if the possibility of these symptoms may sound frightening, such courses are extremely rare (in less than 0.1% of cases, with severe side effects even rarer).
However, 7% of all affected patients die from meningococcal infection - also in Germany.

You might also be interested in this topic: Does vaccination do more harm than good?

Cost of vaccination against meningitis

The cost of vaccination against meningitis will be up to the age of 18 of the statutory health insurance problem-free accepted. She is one of the STIKO (Standing Vaccination Commission) recommended vaccinations and is therefore an integral part of the vaccination plan of the statutory health insurance fund.

If the patient is over the age of 18, the health fund may, under certain circumstances, require the patient to contribute to the costs. However, even after the age of 18, many health insurance companies still offer to cover the costs of the meningococcal vaccination. A vaccination dose costs around 50 euros without paying the health insurance. The price can fluctuate due to the cost of the vaccination consultation and the administration of the syringe, as well as the amount ordered by the doctor consulted.

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The role of ticks

Ticks play as Transmission host does not play a role in meningococcal infection. Ticks can usually transmit two types of pathogen: on the one hand, the Borrelia (which causes the Lyme disease) and on the other hand viruses, which the TBE (Early summer meningoencephalitis). See also: Tick ​​bite
There is no vaccine against Borrelia, but prophylactic protection can be created against the viruses. Germany belongs to the area where the TBE virus spreads. This means that ticks can definitely harbor these viruses here. For children and adults who spend a lot of time in nature or in the forest, vaccination protection definitely makes sense. The statutory health insurances cover the costs of the TBE vaccination.

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