Meningitis Vaccinations Offered During Health Alert

After a West Hollywood man dies after contracting the disease, officials are offering thousands of vaccinations

By Jason Kandel
|  Monday, Apr 15, 2013  |  Updated 1:13 PM PDT
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The AIDS Healthcare Foundation distributed vaccines for bacterial meningitis on April 15, 2013 in response to the death of a West Hollywood man who contracted the disease. NBC4's Toni Guinyard reports.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation distributed vaccines for bacterial meningitis on April 15, 2013 in response to the death of a West Hollywood man who contracted the disease. NBC4's Toni Guinyard reports.

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Health Alert Prompts Meningitis Vaccinations

Free vaccines were being made available in response to an outbreak of bacterial meningitis that has claimed the lives of several men in New York and at least one in West Hollywood. Toni Guinyard reports for Today in LA on Monday, April 15, 2013.

Meningitis Scare in West Hollywood Prompts Free Vaccinations

Following the death of a 33-year-old lawyer from West Hollywood who was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis this week, the city is offering hundreds of free vaccinations to protect residents against the potentially fatal illness. Ted Chen reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on April 14, 2013.
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The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is offering free meningitis vaccinations on Monday at three Los Angeles-area locations.

This follows the weekend death of a West Hollywood man who died from the disease.

The free vaccinations will be available at AIDS Healthcare Foundation pharmacies on Santa Monica and Sunset boulevards and the AHF Hollywood Men's Wellness Center on Vermont Avenue.

“We’re not forcing people to get a vaccine, but if people feel that they may be at risk can get a free vaccine at any of the three locations of ours,” said Ged Kenslea, a spokesman for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

The urgency to prevent the possible spread of meningitis comes after a West Hollywood realtor and lawyer Brett Shaad died days after being diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. His death came on the heels of a rash of outbreaks in New York that are connected to the gay community.

Officials suspect Shaad contracted meningitis -- the inflammation of the tissues covering the brain and spinal cord -- at the annual White Party, a gathering of thousands of gay men in Palm Springs over Easter weekend.

Duran and doctors with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation said that it isn't only the gay community that is affected. Meningitis can be transmitted to anyone who comes into close contact with an infected person.

Infections from the bacteria can be spread through kissing, sharing food, or respiratory secretions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

"Just being gay has no impact on risk for getting infection," said Dr. Otto Yang, an expert in infectious diseases.

The news comes as officials announced a series of vaccinations and offered tips on recognizing the symptoms, which include flu-like symptoms, sudden-onset fever and a headache.

Last month, an Orange County teen had to have all her limbs amputated after contracting a bacteria that caused meningococcal meningitis during a trip to Tijuana. The disease cut off the blood flow to the teen’s toes and fingers, according to earlier reports.

Tests were being done to determine if the strain of illness in Shaad's case is similar to the one that circulated among gay men in New York City and infected 22 people, resulting in seven fatalities, since 2010, the Associated Press reported.

The following locations will offer the vaccine beginning Monday:

AHF Pharmacy in West Hollywood
8212 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, C.A. 90046
Phone:: (323) 654-0907
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

AHF Pharmacy in Hollywood
6210 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, C.A. 90028
Phone: (323) 860-0173
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

AHF Hollywood Men’s Wellness Center
1300 N. Vermont Ave., Suite 407, Los Angeles, C.A. 90027
Phone: (866) 339-2525
Hours: Monday, Wednesday-Friday, 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

For additional information about the Aids Healthcare Foundation’s vaccine program, call 323-436-8900, ext. 5819.

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