In the future, meningococcal vaccination will be given to people with a higher risk of meningococcal diseases due to some other disease they have. Previously, the vaccine was only offered to conscripts and those in voluntary military service. The change has been approved for the National Immunisation Programme and vaccinations have been started in August 2020.
Meningococcus or Neisseria meningitidis is a bacterium that can cause serious infections such as meningitis, bacteremia and sepsis. In Finland, these infections are very rare, but serious. A sudden onset of symptoms and deterioration of the general condition quickly lead to a situation requiring intensive care.
Meningococci are transmitted by droplets. The infection is often an asymptomatic pharyngeal carriage that lasts several months and does not require any action. An infection always requires close contact with a carrier of the bacterium. An asymptomatic pharyngeal carrier can also spread the disease.
A dysfunctional spleen can also predispose a person to meningococcal diseases. People who have received an allogenic stem cell transplantation often suffer from spleen deficiency, which increases the risk of illness. Meningococcal vaccination is also recommended for candidates of splenectomy.
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