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Young people who receive a meningitis vaccine seem to be protected against gonorrhea, as well, a finding that may help prevent the spreading of antibiotic-resistant “super-gonorrhea.”
Gonorrhea is a rampant sexually transmitted infection. In 2020 alone, there were over 82 million new cases amongst those ages 15 to 49.
If left untreated, it can cause infertility as well as chronic pain in women. It may also increase the chances of getting HIV fivefold, and if a pregnant woman passes the HIV infection on to the baby during childbirth, that baby may go blind.
In extraordinary cases, gonorrhea might carry on to the bloodstream, which causes a potentially deadly condition that symptoms include skin rashes, joint pain, and fever.
The most common treatment for gonorrhea has always been antibiotics, although the bacteria that create the disease have increasingly resisted the antibiotics. Which has caused some strains to become mutant, and now it is known as “super-gonorrhea,” which are only vulnerable to one type of antibiotics.
Scientists have been trying to invent a gonorrhea vaccine for many decades now, but none have made it through to the development process.
Nevertheless, there are now vaccines for meningitis, a potentially deadly disease that causes swelling in the membranes surrounding the spinal cord and brain. The bacteria that cause that infection is like the one that forms gonorrhea.
Two different studies have discovered that people who had received the meningitis vaccine, named 4CMenB, were somewhat protected from gonorrhea.
The Vaccine Studies
One study was done in South Australia, as the government provided funding for a meningitis vaccine program for children, babies, and adolescents.
Researchers used a number of chlamydia infections amongst the populous as the control. Scientists from the University discovered that two doses of the vaccine were at least 33% effective at protecting those ages 15 to 20 against gonorrhea.
The second study was done by the health departments in Philadelphia and New York City, as well as the CDC. They looked at cases of gonorrhea amongst those aged 16- to 23-year-olds in the cities from 2016 to 2018, as the researchers compared them to chlamydia infections.
Based on volunteers’ vaccination status, the scientists figured out that two doses of the meningitis vaccine were 40% effective for protecting against gonorrhea, and just one dose was 26% effective.
Although neither study shows researchers if a meningitis vaccine could protect older people from gonorrhea, they do not know exactly how long the protection from the vaccine may last.
Nevertheless, with all new STIs, the bacteria might get another chance to evolve to resist antibiotics. Therefore, getting vaccinated if a person is at high risk of contracting gonorrhea for meningitis may buy them time as they search for an effective vaccine for gonorrhea.