WEST HOLLYWOOD — The city is getting the word out that the county Department of Public Health has issued recommendations for vaccinating against invasive meningococcal disease.
On June 24, a health alert was issued by the department directed at men who have sex with men following a rise in invasive meningococcal disease cases. Nine cases of the disease have been reported in the county this year and four have been among men who have sex with men.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a common outcome of meningococcal infection is meningitis, which can be very serious and even fatal. The symptoms of meningococcal meningitis can appear quickly or over several days.
Typically symptoms develop within three to seven days after exposure and include sudden onset of fever, headache and stiff neck. There can also be more serious symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, and confusion, as well.
According to health experts, most of the bacteria that cause meningitis are not as contagious as diseases like the common cold or influenza. Also, the bacteria are not spread by casual contact.
The city recommends that men who have sex with men take action on the recommendations by visiting a primary-care or other health provider to get a vaccination against the disease. While most people with meningitis recover, it can cause serious complications, such as brain damage, hearing loss or learning disabilities. Although meningococcal disease can be treated with appropriate antibiotics if detected early, prevention is the best medicine.
The Los Angeles LGBT Center will offer a state-funded no-cost meningococcal vaccine for high-risk community members beginning July 5 at its McDonald/Wright Building, located at 1625 N. Schrader Blvd., Los Angeles.
Until the state-funded vaccines are available, HIV-positive patients at the center may receive the vaccine through their provider, and high-risk HIV-negative patients may receive the vaccine for approximately $120 per dose, for a two-dose series.
In West Hollywood, the MinuteClinic at CVS Pharmacy, 8491 Santa Monica Blvd., offers meningococcal vaccine for a fee, though the MinuteClinic will accept health insurance coverage. Information: (866) 389-2727 or visithttp://www.minuteclinic.com/CA/Los-Angeles/West-Hollywood.aspx.
The Men’s Health Foundation and the Southern California Men’s Medical Group will offer the meningococcal vaccine to patients with or without insurance. They are located at 9201 Sunset Blvd., Suite 812, Los Angeles. Information: (310) 550-1010.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health also offers free meningococcal vaccine to L.A. County residents without health insurance. For a listing of clinics, please call the L.A. County Information Line at 211 from any cell phone or landline in Los Angeles County.