In response to a recent State identification of an outbreak of Invasive Meningococcal Disease (IMD) in Southern California, the Board adopted a motion by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl directing the Los Angeles County Health Agency and the Department of Public Health to develop a comprehensive vaccination, information and outreach campaign. The campaign will emphasize getting information and free vaccinations to gay and bisexual men, who are at special risk for IMD, which can be fatal, but which can be prevented with a vaccine.
“We have seen a small number of cases of this dangerous disease since 2012,” said Supervisor Kuehl, “and, although our County Health Officer began strongly recommending vaccination in 2014, we are still not seeing enough of our residents protecting themselves and getting vaccinated. We need a comprehensive response targeting the highest risk population, men who have sex with men, to ensure that individuals who are at risk get vaccinated,” said Supervisor Kuehl.
“This is exactly what is needed to prevent this disease from spreading. We must increase vaccination rates and protect lives. I am heartened to see Supervisor Kuehl and the County move proactively to stem this very serious disease,” said the LA Gay and Lesbian Center’s CEO Lorri L. Jean.
Meningococcal disease is caused by a bacteria that can cause severe infections in the lining of the brain, spinal cord, and bloodstream. It is spread through saliva during close contact, such as kissing or coughing, or living in close quarters. IMD is not spread through casual contact. Once the infection has taken hold, severe illness can develop rapidly and is considered a health emergency. It is fatal in about one in 10 patients.