In a follow-up to a report last monthThe Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health), in conjunction with the County of Orange Health Care Agency and City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services, is expanding vaccination recommendations for Invasive Meningococcal Disease to include all gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) in addition to all persons with HIV infection.

Meningitis symptoms/Public domain image/Mikael Häggström
Meningitis symptoms/Public domain image/Mikael Häggström

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the California Department of Public Health have assisted local health departments with the investigation and management of this outbreak. After analysis of all information related to this increase in cases, the local health departments have collectively agreed to expand the recommendation to include all gay/MSM rather than only those in ‘high risk’ groups.

“We acknowledge this broadens our prior recommendations, but, after careful consultation with the CDC and Health Officers in other affected jurisdictions, we consider that this expansion of the vaccination recommendations is a necessary step to suppress this outbreak,” said LA County Interim Health Officer, Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, MD, MPH.

In addition to other persons for whom the meningococcal vaccination is recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, vaccination of individuals in the following categories is now recommended:

  • All HIV-positive people
  • All gay/MSM

Vaccinations are free of charge at Public Health clinics for all people at higher-risk, regardless of health insurance status. Vaccination can also be obtained from providers who serve the LGBT community and at other healthcare settings.

There has been an increase above the typical number of reported cases for this time of year across southern California. Excluding cases from Long Beach and Pasadena (which have their own health departments), in LA County there have been 13 cases (seven of these cases are gay/MSM). No deaths have occurred in LA County due to these infections.