Meningitis Vaccination

About Meningitis

What is meningitis?

Meningitis is a disease caused by the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and the spinal cord. While most people with meningitis recover, it can cause serious complications, such as brain damage, hearing loss or learning disabilities. A vaccination is the most effective way to protect yourself against certain types of meningitis.

What about the vaccine?

There are two kinds in the U.S.:

There are two types of meningococcal vaccines available in the United States:

  • Conjugate vaccines (Menactra® and Menveo®) Two doses are given to preteens and teens. It is also given to certain people at increased risk of meningococcal disease. It helps protect against four types of the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease (serogroups A, C, W, and Y).
  • Serogroup B (recombinant) vaccines (Bexsero® 2 doses and Trumenba®  3 doses) It is given as a two-dose series to people 16 through 23 years old who are not at increased risk of meningococcal disease. It is given as a three-dose series to people 10 years or older at increased risk of meningococcal disease. It helps protect against one type of the bacteria that causes meningococcal disease (serogroup B).

Who should get vaccinated?

  • College freshmen living in dormitories
  • All adolescents at age 11–12 with a booster at age 16
  • U.S. military recruits
  • Anyone traveling to, or living in, a part of the world where meningococcal disease is common
  • Anyone who has a damaged spleen, or whose spleen has been removed
  • Anyone who has persistent complement component deficiency (an immune system disorder)
  • People who might be exposed to meningitis during an outbreak or the bacteria during laboratory work

Who should NOT get vaccinated or should wait?

  • Anyone who has ever had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of MCV4 or MPSV4 vaccine or diphtheria vaccine
  • Anyone who has a severe allergy to any vaccine component
  • Anyone who is moderately or severely ill at the time the shot is scheduled should wait until they recover before receiving the vaccine
  • Anyone with a history of Guillain-Barré syndrome
  • Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding

What about side effects?

The most common side effects are mild and include redness or pain at the site of the vaccination, both of which usually resolve within 1 or 2 days. A small percentage will develop a mild fever. Serious reactions are rare.

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