The single best way to prevent this disease is to be vaccinated. Vaccines are available for people 6 weeks of age and older. Various vaccines offer protection against five major strains of bacteria that cause meningococcal disease.:
* All teenagers should receive two doses of vaccine against strains A,C,W, and Y. The first dose is given at age 11 to 12 years of age, and the second dose (booster) at age 16.
*It is very important that teens receive the booster dose at age 16 in order to protect them through the years when they are at greater risk of meningococcal disease. Talk to your healthcare provider today if your teen has not received two doses of vaccine against meningococcal strains A,C,W, and Y.
* Teens and young adults can also be vaccinated against the "B" strain. Talk to your health care provider about whether they recommend vaccine against the "B" strain.
Others that should receive the vaccine include:
* Infants, children and adults with certain medical conditions
* People exposed during an outbreak
* Travelers to the "meningitis belt" of sub-Saharan Africa
* Military recruits
To reduce your risk of illness, wash your hands often, maintain healthy habits such as getting plenty of rest and try not to come in contact with people who are sick.