W H A T Y O U N E E D T O K N O W
Many Vaccine Information Statements are available in Spanish and other languages. See http://www.immunize.org/vis. What is meningococcal disease?
1 Meningococcal disease is a serious bacterial illness. It is a leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children 2 through 18 years old in the United States. Meningitis is an infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Meningococcal disease also causes blood infections. About 1,000 – 2,600 people get meningococcal disease each year in the U.S. Even when they are treated with antibiotics, 10-15% of these people die. Of those who survive, another 11-19% lose their arms or legs, become deaf, have problems with their nervous systems, become mentally retarded, or suffer seizures or strokes. Anyone can get meningococcal disease. But it is most common in infants less than one year of age and people with certain medical conditions, such as lack of a spleen. College freshmen who live in dormitories, and teenagers 15-19 have an increased risk of getting meningococcal disease. Meningococcal infections can be treated with drugs such as penicillin. Still, about 1 out of every ten people who get the disease dies from it, and many others are affected for life. This is why preventing the disease through use of meningococcal vaccine is important for people at highest risk.
2 Meningococcal vaccine
There are two kinds of meningococcal vaccine in the U.S.:
– Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4) was
licensed in 2005. It is the preferred vaccine for
people 2 through 55 years of age.
-Meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (MPSV4)
has been available since the 1970s. It may be used if
MCV4 is not available, and is the only meningococcal
vaccine licensed for people older than 55.
Both vaccines can prevent 4 types of meningococcal disease, including 2 of the 3 types most common in the United States and a type that causes epidemics in Africa. Meningococcal vaccines cannot prevent all types of the disease. But they do protect many people who might become sick if they didn’t get the vaccine.
Both vaccines work well, and protect about 90% of people who get them. MCV4 is expected to give betterlonger-lasting protection. MCV4 should also be better at preventing the disease from spreading from person to person.
,Who should get meningococcalvaccine and when? 3
A dose of MCV4 is recommended for children and adolescents 11 through 18 years of age. This dose is normally given during the routine preadolescent immunization visit (at 11-12 years). But those who did not get the vaccine during this visit should get it at the earliest opportunityMeningococcal vaccine is also recommended for other people at increased risk for meningococcal disease:
. College freshmen living in dormitories.
• Microbiologists who are routinely exposed to
•U.S. military recruits.
•Anyone traveling to, or living in, a part of the world
where meningococcal disease is common, such as
parts of Africa.
•Anyone who has a damaged spleen, or whose spleen
has been removed.
•Anyone who has terminal complement component
deficiency (an immune system disorder).
•People who might have been exposed to meningitis
during an outbreak.
MCV4 is the preferred vaccine for people 2 through 55 years of age in these risk groups. MPSV4 can be used if MCV4 is not available and for adults over 55.
How Many Doses?
People 2 years of age and older should get 1 dose. Sometimes a second dose is recommended for people who remain at high risk. Ask your provider. MPSV4 may be recommended for children 3 months to 2 years of age under special circumstances. These children should get 2 doses, 3 months apart.
4 Some people should not get
meningococcal vaccine or should wait
Anyone who has ever had a severe (life-threatening)
allergic reaction to a previous dose of either
meningococcal vaccine should not get another dose.
Anyone who has a severe (life threatening) allergy to
any vaccine component should not get the vaccine.
Tell your provider if you have any severe allergies.
Anyone who is moderately or severely ill at the time
the shot is scheduled should probably wait until they
recover. Ask your provider. People with a mild illness
can usually get the vaccine.
Anyone who has ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome
should talk with their provider before getting MCV4.
Meningococcal vaccines may be given to pregnant
women. However, MCV4 is a new vaccine and has
not been studied in pregnant women as much as
MPSV4 has. It should be used only if clearly needed.
Meningococcal vaccines may be given at the same
time as other vaccines.
5 What are the risks from meningococcal vaccines?
A vaccine, like any medicine, could possibly cause serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. The risk of meningococcal vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small.
As many as half the people who get meningococcal vaccines have mild side effects, such as redness or pain where the shot was given. If these problems occur, they usually last for 1 or 2 days. They are more common after MCV4 than after MPSV4. A small percentage of people who receive the vaccine develop a fever.
• Serious allergic reactions, within a few minutes to
a few hours of the shot, are very rare.
• A serious nervous system disorder called Guillain-
Barré Syndrome (or GBS) has been reported among
some people who received MCV4. This happens so
rarely that it is currently not possible to tell if the
vaccine might be a factor. Even if it is, the risk is
What if there is a moderate orsevere reaction? 6
What should I look for?
• Any unusual condition, such as a high fever,
weakness, or behavior changes. Signs of a serious
allergic reaction can include difficulty breathing,
hoarseness or wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, a
fast heart beat or dizziness.
What should I do?
• Call a doctor, or get the person to a doctor right away.
• Tell your doctor what happened, the date and time
it happened, and when the vaccination was given.
• Ask your doctor, nurse, or health department to
report the reaction by filing a Vaccine Adverse
Event Reporting System (VAERS) form.
Or you can file this report through the VAERS web site at http://www.vaers.hhs.gov, or by calling 1-800-822-7967. VAERS does not provide medical advice. The National Vaccine InjuryCompensation Program 7
A federal program exists to help pay for the care of anyone who has had a rare serious reaction to a vaccine. For information about the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, call 1-800-338-2382 or visit their website at http://www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation.
How can I learn more?
8 Ask your doctor or nurse.
They can give you the vaccine package insert or suggest other sources of
• Call your local or state health department.
• Contact the Centers for Disease Control and
– Call 1-800-232-4636 (1-800-CDC-INFO)
– Visit CDC’s National Immunization Program
website at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines
– Visit CDC’s meningococcal disease website at
– Visit CDC’s Travelers’ Health website at wwwn.cdc.gov/travel
Meningococcal 1/28/08 Vaccine Information Statement (Interim)
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