Meningococcus vaccine found in the routine vaccination programme in USA has also been registered and launced in our country.
The vaccine against meningococcus which is known as the most severe and dangerous species of meningitis is included in the vaccination programme of several European countries and USA and it is also in the market for use in our country.
Before that, there was only the vaccine administered to individuals going to endemic regions and pilgrimage in our country. As this vaccine was not sufficiently effective in children and young population, it was not included in the routie vaccination programme. The recently registered vaccine that is effective against 4 sub-species of meningococci is now also administered to children.
Meningitis is an acute infectious disease that arises as a result of different micro-organisms holding the brain membranes. It progresses very slowly. However, it may result in death and the likelihood of recovered patients to remain sequellae is very high. It is more common in children below the age of 5 and it progresses incredibly slow.
The most common reasons of bacterial meningitis are N. Meningitis, S. Pneumonia and H. influenza Type B whereas the cases S. pneumonia (pneumococcus) and H.Influenza B meningitis are recently decreases thanks to the vaccination done against both. However, N. Meningitis (Meningococcus) continuous to be the leading cause of the meningitis cases.
Meningitis progresses with sudden fever, headache, vomiting, rash rapidly spreading to the body and sometimes leads to septic shock through intra-dermal bleeding and may result in death with a rate of 15-20%. The rate of recovered individuals to be sequellae is 30%.
Although it is seen all around the world, it is found most commonly in a region called African meningitis belt that includes Africa and Saudi Arabia. Therefore, adults going to pilgrimage and coming back to the country could be risk factors for the transfer and transmission of the meningococcus infection.
Turkey is an intermediate risk zone in terms of meningitis. According to the statistical data of 2008, 10% of the deaths in children below the age of 5 are due to meningococcus diseases in Turkey.
World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends regular vaccination for countries at high or moderate level of risk in terms of meningococcuc infections where as it recommends vaccination only for risk groups (living in a crowded environment, nursery, soldiers, immune impairment) in areas at low risk.
As our country is in the intermediate risk zone, we recommend the administration of meningococcus vaccine that has been registered but not included in the vaccination schedule of the ministry of health for all children.