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      The importance of meningitis vaccinations

      College students heading back to school soon raises the question of whether or not your child should be vaccinated for meningitis.

      More than 1,000 cases of meningitis are reported each year in the United States. Those infected can get very ill within a matter of hours. Meningitis can cause fever, blood infection, loss of limbs, and in 10-15 percent of cases, death.

      College students are advised to be vaccinated because the disease spreads easily in close quarters, such as dormitories.

      "We know this isn't one of the more common illnesses that we see, however it is one of the most devastating if you become infected," says Dr. Terry Frankovich. "It's preventable to a large extent with vaccine. It's just a good focus for parents to reduce the risk for their children."

      Side effects of the vaccine are mild, such as redness or pain at the injection site. The vaccine is covered by most health care providers.