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Almost 27 per cent of young people in Malaga have not yet been vaccinated against meningitis

The Junta de Andalucía is stepping up its#ZeroMeningitis communication campaign by sending reminders to those at risk of contracting the serious infection

SUSANA ZAMORA

In Malaga, some 43,587 adolescents out of a total of 164,517 have yet to be vaccinated. To combat this, the Andalusian regional government has been intensifying its #ZeroMeningitis campaign in recent weeks and is looking for the almost 27 per cent of young people in Malaga aged between 12 and 20 who have not been vaccinated.

The increase in meningitis cases since 2015 has put a large number of countries in Europe on alert. Until that date, vaccination against meningococcus C (one of the types of bacteria that causes the infection) was given in Spain at the age of 4 and 12 months, and also at the age of 12 years. However, concern that cases would soar led Andalucía in 2020 to change the 12-month and 12-year doses for a more complete vaccine, covering serogroups A, C, W and Y meningococcus extending protection.

Due to the fact that a slight increase in cases was observed in adolescence, and that at this age the chances of carrying the bacteria in the pharynx are higher (it is transmitted from one person to another by droplets expelled through the mouth, for example, through kissing, sharing utensils, or smoking), the Ministry of Health and Families decided to undertake the vaccination campaign.

Meningococcal disease is caused by a bacterium called Neisseria meningitidis. More simply, it is known as meningitis and there are several types (serogroups): A, B, C, W, X and Y. The bacteria are usually found in the throat and the infection is most commonly transmitted in closed environments (schools, student residences or bars). The disease can manifest itself in two main forms: meningitis or sepsis. Both are very serious, even more so sepsis, as it usually leads to septic shock and death within a few hours.

Meningitis, which causes inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, is lethal without treatment. So far in the 2021-2022 epidemic season in Spain, there have been 39 cases of meningococcal disease (two of whom have died), of which ten cases and one death have occurred in Andalucía.

Those who have not been vaccinated do not need an appointment to get the jab.