What is meningococcal vaccine?
There are two kinds of meningococcal vaccines licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for protection against serogroups A, C, W, and Y: meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY) and meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (MPSV4):
- MenACWY is the preferred vaccine for people in these groups who are 2 months through 55 years old, have received MenACWY previously, or anticipate requiring multiple doses.
- MPSV4 vaccine is recommended for adults older than 55 who anticipate requiring only a single dose (travelers, or during community outbreaks).
Who should get meningococcal vaccine and when?
Two doses of MenACWY are routinely recommended for adolescents 11 through 18 years of age: the first dose at 11 or 12 years of age, with a booster dose at age 16.
Some adolescents, including those with HIV infection, should receive additional doses. Ask your health care provider for more information.
In addition to routine vaccination for adolescents, MenACWY vaccine is also recommended for certain groups of people:
- People at risk because of a serogroup A, C, W, or Y meningococcal disease outbreak
- Anyone whose spleen is damaged or has been removed
- Anyone with a rare immune system condition called "persistent complement component deficiency"
- Anyone taking a drug called eculizumab (Soliris)
- Microbiologists who routinely work with isolates of N. meningitidis
- Anyone traveling to, or living in, a part of the world where meningococcal disease is common, such as parts of Africa
- College freshmen living in dormitories
- U.S. military recruits
Children between 2 and 23 months of age, and people with certain medical conditions need multiple doses for adequate protection. Ask your health care provider about the number and timing of doses, and the need for booster doses.
Who should not get meningococcal vaccine or should wait?
Tell the person who is giving you the vaccine:
- If you have ever had a life-threatening allergic reactionafter a previous dose of meningococcal vaccine, or if you have a severe allergy to any part of this vaccine, you should not get this vaccine. Your provider can tell you about the vaccine's ingredients.
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding. There is not very much information about the potential risks of this vaccine for a pregnant woman or breastfeeding mother. It should be used during pregnancy only if clearly needed.
- If you have a mild illness, such as a cold, you can probably get the vaccine today. If you are moderately or severely ill, you should probably wait until you recover. Your doctor can advise you.
What are the risks from meningococcal vaccines?
With any medicine, including vaccines, there is a chance of side effects. These are usually mild and go away on their own within a few days, but serious reactions are also possible.
Mild problems following meningococcal vaccination:
- As many as half the people who get meningococcal ACWY vaccine have mild problems following vaccination, such as redness or soreness where the shot was given.
- If these problems occur, they usually last for 1 or 2 days; they are more common after the MenACWY vaccination than after the MPSV4 vaccination.
- A small percentage of people who receive the vaccine develop a mild fever.
Problems that could happen after any injected vaccine:
- People sometimes faint after a medical procedure, including vaccination. Sitting or lying down for about 15 minutes can help prevent fainting and injuries caused by a fall. Tell your doctor if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.
- Some people get severe pain in the shoulder and have difficulty moving the arm where a shot was given. This happens very rarely.
- Any medication can cause a severe allergic reaction. Such reactions from a vaccine are very rare, estimated at about 1 in a million doses, and would happen within a few minutes to a few hours after the vaccination.As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a serious injury or death. The safety of vaccines is always being monitored. For more information, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/.
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a federal program that was created to compensate people who may have been injured by certain vaccines. Persons who believe they may have been injured by a vaccine can learn about the program and about filing a claim by calling 1-800-338-2382 or visiting the VICP website at http://www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation. There is a time limit to file a claim for compensation.
Brand names of combination products
- MenHibrix® (containing Haemophilus influenzae type b, Meningococcal Vaccine)