Meningococcal Vaccine

  • Who Should Not Get Vaccinated?

    If you have the following conditions, you should not get the vaccine:

    • Have had a life-threatening allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine or its components
    • Are moderately or severely ill

    The vaccines may be given to pregnant women. However, the MCV4 vaccine has not been extensively studied in pregnant women. It should be used only if it is clearly needed.

  • What Other Ways Can Meningococcal Disease Be Prevented Besides Vaccination?

    Preventive antibiotics may be given to people in close contact with an infected person, such as:

    • Healthcare workers
    • Family members

  • What Happens in the Event of an Outbreak?

    In the event of an outbreak, close contacts of infected people and people at increased risk should get the vaccine. Antibiotics may be recommended for people in close contact.

  • What Is Meningococcal Disease?

    Meningococcal disease is caused by an infection that affects the meninges. The meninges is the protective membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. A bacterial infection of the meninges, called
    bacterial meningitis, can cause death within hours. This bacteria can also cause infections in the blood.

    The disease is most common in:

    • Infants aged less than one year
    • People aged 16-21 years old
    • People with certain medical conditions
    • Community settings where large groups of people gather, such as college dorms or military bases

    About 1,200 people in the US develop the disease each year. Approximately 10%-15% of these people die. Another 11%-19% lose their arms or legs, become deaf, have nervous system problems, or suffer

    Symptoms of meningitis include:

    • High fever
    • Headache
    • Very stiff, sore neck
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Sensitivity to bright lights
    • Sleepiness
    • Mental confusion

    Symptoms in newborn and infants can be hard to notice. These may include:

    • Inactivity
    • Unexplained high fever or low body temperature
    • Irritability
    • Vomiting
    • Feeding poorly or refusing to eat
    • Tautness or bulging of soft spots between skull bones
    • Difficulty waking

    Treatment may include:

    • Antibiotics
    • Corticosteroids
    • Fluid replacement

  • What Are the Risks Associated With the Meningococcal Vaccine?

    The meningococcal vaccine, like all vaccines, has the potential to cause serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. The risk of the vaccine causing serious harm or death is extremely small.

    Mild problems associated with the vaccine include redness or pain at the injection site or a fever.

  • What Is the Meningococcal Vaccine?

    There are two meningococcal vaccines available in the US:

    • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4)—given as a shot into the muscle, preferred for people age 55 years or younger
    • Meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (MPSV4)—given as a shot under the skin, preferred for adults age 56 years or older

    Both vaccines are made from parts of the meningococcal bacteria. They do not contain live bacteria.

  • Who Should Get Vaccinated and When?