CDC touts vaccine for gay, bisexual men for Florida meningitis surge

(Photo from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/GSA)

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) | Health officials recommended June 22 that men in Florida who have sex with other men get a meningococcal vaccine following one of the worst outbreaks among gay and bisexual men in U.S. history of a bacteria that causes meningitis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement that there have been at least 24 cases and seven deaths among gay and bisexual men caused by the bacteria in Florida recently. The CDC also recommended that gay and bisexual men traveling to Florida should ask their health care provider about getting the vaccine.

“Because of the outbreak in Florida, and the number of Pride events being held across the state in coming weeks, it’s important that gay and bisexual men who live in Florida get vaccinated, and those traveling to Florida talk to their healthcare provider about getting a MenACWY vaccine,” said Jose Romero, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

The LGBT+ Center Orlando is offering the meningococcal vaccine today at its Health and Human Services location at 1200 Hillcrest St. in Orlando from 3-7 p.m. The vaccines are being administered by Walmart so insurance is required to receive the vaccine. Walmart will offer free COVID-19 vaccines and boosters during that time as well.

The Florida Department of Health will be offering the meningococcal vaccine, as well as the Hepatitis A and B vaccines,  for free at The Center in Kissimmee June 28 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Meningococcal disease is caused by a bacteria, and when the linings of the brain and spinal cord become infected, it is called meningitis.

Symptoms include a sudden, high fever; headache; stiff neck; nausea or vomiting; or a dark purple rash, according to health officials.

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