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The Vaccine Crossroads

Jennifer Fisher Wilson
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Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 2003;138(10):857-860. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-138-10-200305200-00037
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Hundreds of college students each year catch meningococcal disease, an illness that preys particularly on young people in close living conditions. Meningococcal disease is rare, but for those infected, it can be highly dangerous, turning from flu-like symptoms to impaired circulation, failing organs, loss of extremities, and death within 24 hours. About 1 in 10 people with the disease die, and those who survive it may suffer severe complications, such as limb loss and brain damage. Often, however, meningococcal disease never has to happen: A $75, single-shot vaccine protects against four of the five serotypes of meningococcal bacteria. Why then, with such a simple intervention available, are so few students getting immunized?



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