Letters to the Editor

Time for shots

Start the school year off right and talk to your physician about keeping immunizations up to date and protecting your children.

Medical professionals have long evaluated the risks and benefits of immunizations. They are essential to keeping people of all ages healthy and safe from the devastating effects of communicable diseases such as meningitis, whooping cough and measles.

Many parents are aware of the need to vaccinate their children against childhood diseases but often are unaware of the need for a vaccination against meningitis — a life-threatening illness.

Meningococcal disease can be spread when people have close contact with an infected person’s saliva, such as sharing water bottles or drinks, kissing or coughing, especially in communal living situations like college dorms, boarding schools and athletic teams. It causes inflammation of the membranes around the spinal cord and the brain.

Fortunately, meningitis is uncommon, up to 10 percent of those infected die, even with treatment. Symptoms can include fever, rash, lethargy, intense headache, pain when looking at bright lights and stiff neck.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all children 11 to 12 years old should be vaccinated the first time and have a booster vaccine about five years later.

Fleur Sack, M.D., Miami