Fiji Offers Sun, Beaches and Meningococcal C
The South Pacific paradise of Fiji comprises over 300 islands and is one of the most developed economies due to an abundance of forest, mineral, and fish resources.
But, before boarding the 10-hour flight from Los Angeles, you should verify if or when you have had a meningococcal disease vaccination.
This suggestion comes from the Fiji Health Ministry, who announced a six-week long, mass vaccination program for the life-threatening meningococcal disease. Children between the ages of 12 months to 19 years will receive the vaccination, reports the Fiji Times.
This emergency vaccination program was announced because life-threatening meningococcal C disease has already claimed 11 lives, said Fiji Health Minister Rosy Akbar.
She said out of the 46 cases recorded from January to April 2018, twenty-two of these cases were laboratory confirmed and 24 were either suspected or probable, but not diagnosed by a laboratory. Males account for 63 percent of the cases.
“In 2017, our national incidence of meningococcal disease was 5.9 per 100,000 population and there was a total of seven deaths reported,” Akbar said.
Minister Rosy Akbar told Parliament that 333,876 children would be vaccinated by 53 teams during this program.
“We believe that we will encounter some challenges taking the vaccine down to the maritime areas because of the cold chain storage issue,” Ms Akbar said. “Particular attention will be given to schools since there have been cases observed in boarding schools, temporary fix outreach immunization posts will cover all our schools.”
Minster Akbar said between January and July 2017, seven students at St. John’s College in Levuka were diagnosed with the disease caused by serogroup C Nisseria meningitidis.
Twelve types of N. meningitidis, called serogroups, have been identified, six of which (A, B, C, W, X, and Y) can cause epidemics.
Meningococcal disease can refer to any illness caused by the type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis, also known as meningococcus, says the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Illnesses related to meningococcal disease are often severe and can be deadly.
They include infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream infections (bacteremia or septicemia).
These bacteria spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions, like spit. Doctors treat meningococcal disease with antibiotics, but quick medical attention is extremely important.
Keeping up to date with recommended vaccines is the best defense against meningococcal disease, says the CDC.
Besides getting a meningococcal vaccine, the CDC suggest checking your immunizations for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid and Yellow Fever prior to traveling to Fiji.
Most pharmacies offer these ‘travel’ vaccines.
Vaccines, like any medicine, can have side effects, says the CDC. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of vaccines to the FDA or CDC.