Information about Meningococcal Disease, Human Papillomavirus and Prevention

A Message from Health Services

 

Dear Families:

As a parent/guardian, there is nothing more important than safeguarding your child’s health. The Washington State Legislature requires us to make information available to you about meningococcal disease and human papillomavirus (HPV). Know the facts about these diseases and the vaccines available to protect your child.

 

Meningococcal Disease and Prevention

 

What is meningococcal disease?

Meningococcal disease is a serious bacterial infection. Fortunately, this life-threatening illness is rare, with only 20-50 cases reported each year in Washington. The most common symptoms of the disease include fever, cough, headache, and rash. It can cause meningitis (swelling of the covering of the brain and spinal cord). The disease spreads through close contact with an infected person. Teens and young adults are more likely to get meningococcal disease, especially if they live in group settings like college dorms.

 

How can I protect my child from meningococcal disease?

The meningococcal vaccine, or MCV4, prevents against four types of the disease. It is recommended for all children between 11 and 12 years of age, and again at 16 to 18 years of age.

 

Where can I find the meningococcal vaccine?

Talk to your doctor, nurse, or local health department to learn more. Washington offers free vaccines to kids through age 18. Providers may charge an office visit fee or administration fee to give the vaccine. People who can’t afford these fees can ask to have them waived.

 

For more information about meningococcal disease and how to prevent it, you can visit the following websites:

Washington State Department of Health

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Vaccine Education Center 

 

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Prevention

 

What is HPV?

HPV is a common virus. Most people exposed to HPV will never develop health issues. But for others, HPV causes major health problems, including cervical, anal, vulvar, mouth, and throat cancer. Most infected people have no symptoms and may spread the virus without knowing it. HPV spreads mainly through sexual contact.

 

How can I protect my child from HPV?

Make sure your child gets the HPV vaccine. The vaccine is highly effective. The best time to get it is before sexual activity ever starts. The HPV vaccine can prevent infection from some of the most common and serious types of HPV that cause cancer and genital warts. The vaccine does not get rid of existing HPV infections.

 

Who should get the vaccine and when should they get it?

Three doses of HPV vaccine are recommended for all boys and girls starting at ages 11 to 12. It is recommended for females up to age 26 and for men up to age 21. In addition to HPV vaccine, your 11 to 12 year-old should receive Tdap and meningococcal vaccines.

 

Where can I find the HPV vaccine?

Ask your doctor, nurse, or local health department about the vaccine and where you can get it.

 

For more information on HPV, the vaccine, and cervical cancer, you can visit the following websites:

Washington State Department of Health

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

American Cancer Society