FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. – There is an outbreak of meningococcal disease in Florida and the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) and Department of Health in Okaloosa County (DOH-Okaloosa) are encouraging selected groups of people to consider getting vaccinated, according to an announcement by DOH-Okaloosa.
“(Meningococcal disease) can be prevented and treated. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect against meningococcal disease,” the DOH said.
The number of cases identified in 2022 surpasses the five-year average of meningococcal disease cases in Florida, the FDOH said.
The DOH recommends the following groups consider vaccination with a meningococcal conjugate (MenACWY) vaccine during this outbreak:
- College and university students
- Immunocompromised individuals
- People living with HIV
- Men who have sex with men
- People in any groups listed above who received their MenACWY vaccine more than 5 years ago.
Find meningococcal vaccines, including the MenACWY vaccine, by contacting a health care provider, county health department, or pharmacy. DOH-Okaloosa offers meningococcal vaccines. For more information, visit the DOH-Okaloosa website at HealthyOkaloosa.com or call 850-833-9246.
This is a serious disease caused by bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis. Fortunately, these bacteria are not as contagious as germs that cause the common cold or flu.
People do not catch the bacteria through casual contact or by breathing air where someone with meningococcal disease has been. It requires close contact over a period of time, or direct contact such as kissing or sharing drinks.
Early symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, confusion, and rash.
Anyone who has been exposed or develops symptoms should be evaluated by a health care provider immediately. This is a rare but potentially devastating disease.
For more information about meningococcal disease, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website or the FDOH website.