Winneshiek Medical Center is promoting the importance of vaccinations to prevent meningitis.
Meningitis is the swelling of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord. Twenty percent of individuals who survive the disease have severe side effects.
Children are particularly susceptible to the disease, according to a press release.
“Vaccines are very safe and effective at preventing meningitis,” Samantha Mikota, doctor of nursing practice at Winneshiek Medical Center Decorah Clinic, said in the release.
Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) said that the vaccine is required for middle-school students and high-schoolers in Iowa-area private and public schools.
“While the State of Iowa is now requiring the vaccine for certain school-aged children, it is also a good idea for any parent sending a student off to college to consider giving them the vaccine because they will be living in the close quarters of dorms," Mikota said.
Meningitis can be spread by viral, bacterial and fungal infections and can be spread in a way similar to the common cold.
“If you have symptoms of meningitis, you should see your health care provider as soon as possible because it can become fatal within days without prompt antibiotic treatment,” Mikota said. “Even delaying treatment can risk brain damage, hearing loss, memory difficulty, learning disabilities, gait problems, seizures and kidney failure.”