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Understanding Meningitis -- Prevention

Meningitis Vaccines continued...

Other Vaccines to Prevent Meningitis

Vaccines can prevent many of the diseases that could lead to meningitis. Most of these shots are routinely given to young children. The immunizations that help prevent bacterial and viral meningitis include:

  • Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) vaccine, which prevents infections that cause pneumonia, meningitis, and other problems. It's given to children between 2 months and 15 months old, and then to children over 5 years old or adults with certain medical conditions. While Hib used to be the most likely cause of bacterial meningitis in children under 5 years old, the vaccine has made it very rare.
  • Pneumococcal vaccines also protect against bacterial meningitis. There are two types. The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is routinely given to children under age 2. The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is recommended for all adults over 65. Some younger adults and children with a missing spleen, weakened immune systems, and certain chronic diseases may also need it.
  • MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine, which is routinely given to children, protects against meningitis that can develop from measles and mumps.
  • Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine and shingles vaccine target the varicella virus, which can potentially lead to viral meningitis.

Other Precautions in Meningitis Prevention

In addition to vaccinations, you should follow some commonsense precautions to help prevent meningitis.

  • Be careful around people who have meningitis. It's possible to catch some types of meningitis through contact with bodily fluids. So it might be spread by kissing, sneezing, coughing, or sharing utensils or toothbrushes. If someone in your family has a contagious type of meningitis, try to limit contact with the infected person.
  • Wash your hands after having contact with someone who has meningitis.

If you come into close contact with someone with meningitis, call your health care provider. Depending on the extent of exposure and the type of meningitis, you may need to take an antibiotic as a precaution.





WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Lisa B. Bernstein, MD on March 18, 2015
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