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Free meningitis vaccines offered after West Hollywood man's death

April 15, 2013|By Los Angeles Times Staff

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation will offer free meningitis vaccines starting Monday.

The move comes just days after a West Hollywood man died from the disease.

Anyone who might have been exposed to the disease or might be at risk should to make plans to receive the vaccine, officials say.

Worry over a meningitis outbreak started last week after 33-year-old Brett Shaad, a West Hollywood lawyer, died of the disease on Friday.

Shaad became critically ill shortly after he attended an annual Easter weekend gathering of gay men in Palm Springs, according to the foundation.

The vaccine, offered to anyone believing they are at risk, will be given starting Monday at three locations: the foundation’s West Hollywood pharmacy at 8212 Santa Monica Blvd.; its Hollywood pharmacy at 6210 Sunset Blvd.; and its wellness center, at 1300 N. Vermont Ave., Suite 407.

The foundation is prepared to give out 10,000 doses, KTLA-TV reported.

Local health officials are concerned because Shaad’s death occurred after reports of meningitis striking several gay men in New York, prompting fears that an outbreak there was spreading via sex.

An L.A. County coroner’s investigator said Friday that an autopsy had not yet been done on Shaad, but that he had meningitis.

Bacterial meningitis can be treated with antibiotics if identified quickly. Symptoms include sudden fever, severe headache and sensitivity to light.

People in close contact with someone who has meningitis are at higher risk of contracting the disease, though it is not as contagious as the common cold.

There is a vaccine, but it is generally recommended only for certain populations, including adolescents.

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