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DOH continues on with meningoccocal drive — some schools are requiring vaccinations

American Samoa Dept. of Health logo

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Team members from the Dept. of Health have been vaccinating school children from private and public elementary schools, in an effort to combat meningococcus.

Parents are urged to sign consent forms being sent home with their children.

Some schools are making it a requirement to get vaccinated. Those who do not get the vaccine will not be admitted back in the classroom.

The last day for the school immunizations is Feb. 1 but vaccinations are also available at any one of the DOH Health Centers and they are free of charge.

Data collected from the outreach will determine the number of students who were vaccinated and those who were not.

According to a DOH official, the shots are administered in two doses - three months apart - for children 11 years old and older.

Meningococcal meningitis is a rare but serious bacterial infection. It causes the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord to become inflamed. Each year, approximately 1,000 people in the U.S. get meningococcal disease, which includes meningitis and septicemia (blood infection), according to

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccination with a meningococcal conjugate vaccine for all preteens and teens at 11 to 12 years old, with a booster dose at 16 years old so adolescents have protection during the ages when they are at highest risk.

 The incubation period of meningococcal disease is 3 to 4 days, with a range of 2 to 10 days. It can start with symptoms similar to influenza (flu), and will often also cause nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, rash, and confusion.