dave-mittlemanAs your children head back to school this fall, don’t forget their shots. While the flu shot has received a great amount of publicity, doctors are beginning to worry that shots for bacterial meningitis will fall by the wayside.

Bacterial meningitis seems harmless at first—it begins with common flu-like systems such as fever, chills, and vomiting. However, the infection can cause massive devastation within just one day, including death. Those at highest risk of contracting the infection are tweens, teens and college freshman—thus, the importance of vaccinating your middle, high school, and college-aged children.

Two years ago, the federal government recommended that every adolescent receive the meningococcal meningitis vaccination. Luckily, many parents heeded the recommendations: 40% of tweens and teens are vaccinated. However, about 15% of people who do catch the infection die, and another 1 in 5 suffer brain damage, deafness or amputated limbs. Since the government recommendations, doctors have witnessed a decrease in the number of people infected by bacterial meningitis, with only about 2,000 Americans affected each year. What they don’t want is for parents to stop having their children vaccinated; just when the rates are hitting historic lows. Luckily, many colleges now require all freshmen to be vaccinated. However, the Centers for Disease Control urge parents to vaccinate their children at age 11. Unfortunately, many middle school-aged children will miss receiving the vaccination if they aren’t involved in school sports, which has spurred many states to pass legislation to make the meningococcal shot a requirement to enter certain grades.

Please vaccinate your child against this fast-acting infection. A simple shot could save them from brain damage, physical deformities or deafness, possibly even saving their life.