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|For Immediate Release:
July 07, 2016
|For more information contact:
Public Health Communications
|LA County Partners with Community Providers to Encourage
At-Risk Gay/Bisexual Men to Get Meningococcal Vaccine
|LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Departments of Public Health (Public Health) and Health Services are partnering with community providers caring for gay/bisexual men, or men who have sex with men (MSM), and HIV infected populations to increase vaccinations for Invasive Meningococcal Disease.
“Public Health continues to work every day to protect health and stop the spread of this fatal disease,” said Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, Interim Health Officer, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. “Vaccination is the best way to prevent the disease. The County is committed to developing a comprehensive vaccination campaign to protect all persons who are at risk.”
During the months of May and June, a disproportionate number of cases have occurred among self-identified MSM within LA County. To protect public health and prevent the future spread of Invasive Meningococcal Disease, it is important to encourage vaccination and take other preventive measures that limit activities that spread saliva.
“The County is closely monitoring and taking every step to prevent the spread of Meningococcal Disease,” said LA County Health Agency Director Mitchell Katz, MD. “It is important to get educated and vaccinated, especially men who have sex with men and persons who are HIV infected. A number of public and private clinics and pharmacies, including health centers run by the L.A. County Departments of Public Health and Health Services, are offering vaccine for free or low-cost.”
Since the beginning of the year, eight of the 17 people infected with Invasive Meningococcal Disease in the County of Los Angeles (including Long Beach) are self- identified gay or bisexual men.
“The recent outbreak of invasive meningococcal disease in Los Angeles are reminds us that, even though the number of cases is still small, gay and bisexual men continue to be infected at a higher rate than the general population,” said Los Angeles LGBT Center Medical Director Robert Bolan. “HIV infected individuals also appear to be at higher risk. To clear up any ambiguity, we think the message should be simple. If you are a gay or bisexual man or a transgender individual, you should receive the meningococcal vaccination. HIV uninfected individuals only need a single dose of the vaccine.”
The meningococcal vaccination is recommended for a number of groups who are at increased risk for the disease, including:
Free meningococcal vaccinations are available for all people at higher-risk at the following health centers:
Los Angeles LGBT Center
APLA Health & Wellness
APLA Health & Wellness
AHF Wellness Center - Hollywood
AHF Wellness Center - West Adams
AHF Wellness Center - San Fernando Valley
AHF Wellness Centers - Long Beach
Curtis-Tucker Public Health Center
Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Public Health (in STD Clinic)
Whittier Health Center
Pomona Public Health Center
North Hollywood Health Center (in STD Clinic)
Vaccinations can also be obtained from other healthcare providers and in select pharmacies. Call your provider or your pharmacy to for more information. Limiting activities that spread saliva can also decrease the risk of infection. These include:
Public Health continues working closely with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and neighboring health departments as well as the CDC to promote education and awareness, and to increase the ease and availability of vaccination.
About Invasive Meningococcal Disease: Meningococcal disease is a rare, but serious disease that can lead to swelling in the brain and spinal cord, loss of a limb, deafness, brain damage or even death. Meningococcal disease is caused by a type of bacteria known as Neisseria meningitidis. The illness most people are familiar with is meningitis. It can be spread to others through the respiratory secretions of people who carry the bacteria without symptoms in their nose and throat. Meningococcal disease can start with flu-like symptoms, and progress to high fever, headache, stiff neck, confusion and rash. People who experience these symptoms should seek medical care immediately.
The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises nearly 4,000 employees and has an annual budget exceeding $900 million. To learn more about the LA County Department of Public Health and the work they do, visit PublicHealth .LACounty.gov/, and follow Public Health on social media at twitter.com/LAP ublicHealth, facebook.c om/LAPublicHealth, and youtub e.com/LAPublicHealth.