Berlin health authorities are asking gay men to get vaccinations against bacterial meningitis.
In an unprecedented step, the city government of the German capital has recommended shots for homosexuals in Mid-July. The recommendation comes two weeks after the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) reported three meningitis deaths in Berlin within the gay community, with a fourth young man lying in a coma.
The men, all under 25 and hiv negative, contracted the bacterial infection in february or may. Meningitis can be spread by sneezing, coughing, sharing utensils or kissing.
Within the last weeks, officials in France and Belgium also reported cases. There were 22 confirmed deaths in New York City and three in Los Angeles in the past three years.
With the government recommendation, the vaccination is being covered by the public health insurance system in Berlin. Only men that have sex with men qualify for the coverage. Other regions might follow the lead of the capital in the next couple of weeks. The shots cost about €50 (£44 / $65) in German hospitals.
People from abroad who visit the Berlin gay scene should also consider getting vaccinated.