Florida Gay, Bisexual Men Urged to Get Meningococcal Vaccine Amidst Outbreak

The CDC recommendation comes after reports of 24 cases and 7 deaths from the disease after an outbreak in Florida

Amidst "one of the worst outbreaks of meningococcal disease among gay and bisexual men in U.S. history," the CDC is recommending all Floridian gay and bisexual men become vaccinated against the persistent illness.

“Getting vaccinated against meningococcal disease is the best way to prevent this serious illness, which can quickly become deadly,” said Dr. José R. Romero, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Meningococcal disease pertains to both meningitis infection and a bloodstream infection, and is a very serious and often deadly disease. It is most often spread through close contact with a carrier, such as a roommate or sexual partner.

Common symptoms are high fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea/vomiting or a dark purple rash. While symptoms often seem like those of a common cold, they worsen quickly and those who experience them should seek medical attention immediately.

The recommendation is sparked by the fact that "the number of cases identified in 2022 surpasses the 5-year average of meningococcal disease cases in Florida." It is only made more urgent by the current celebration of Pride and the increased likelihood of contracting this disease.

“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,” Romero said.  

Men who have sexual relations with men, specifically who live in or are traveling to Florida, are urged to receive the MenACWY vaccine as soon as possible.

They can do so at their local doctor or pharmacy, and should receive insurance coverage during the outbreak.

In addition, anyone in Florida can receive this vaccine cost-free at any county health department during the outbreak.

For more information on this outbreak and receiving the vaccine, please see here.

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