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Meningococcal Vaccine


Margot L. Savoy

, MD, MPH, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Reviewed/Revised Jan 2023

The meningococcal vaccine protects against infections caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis (meningococci). Meningococcal infections Meningococcal Infections Meningococcal infections are caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis (meningococci) and include meningitis and sepsis. Infection is spread by direct contact with nasal and throat... read more Meningococcal Infections can lead to meningitis Introduction to Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the layers of tissue that cover the brain and spinal cord (meninges) and of the fluid-filled space between the meninges (subarachnoid space). Meningitis can be... read more (an infection of tissue covering the brain), dangerously low blood pressure Shock Shock is a life-threatening condition in which blood flow to the organs is low, decreasing delivery of oxygen and thus causing organ damage and sometimes death. Blood pressure is usually low... read more (shock), and death. These bacteria are the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children Meningitis in Children Bacterial meningitis is a serious infection of the layers of tissue covering the brain and spinal cord ( meninges). Bacterial meningitis in older infants and children usually results from bacteria... read more and the second leading cause of bacterial meningitis in adults Acute Bacterial Meningitis Acute bacterial meningitis is rapidly developing inflammation of the layers of tissue that cover the brain and spinal cord (meninges) and of the fluid-filled space between the meninges (subarachnoid... read more .

For more information, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Meningococcal vaccine information statement.

There are several specific types (called serogroups) of Neisseria meningitidis. Meningococcal vaccines protect against the serogroups that cause most meningococcal disease (serogroups A, B, C, W, and Y). Two formulations of the meningococcal vaccine are available in the United States:

  • The conjugate vaccine (MCV4, protecting against serogroups A, C, W, and Y) is preferred for people aged 9 months to 55 years and is used for routine childhood vaccination.

  • Meningococcal group B vaccine (MenB) is available to prevent infection by one type of meningitis bacteria that has become common in outbreaks among college students.

Administration of Meningococcal Vaccine

The vaccine is also recommended for younger children who are at increased risk of meningococcal infection, such as those without a spleen or their spleen does not work well and those with certain immunodeficiency disorders. The minimum age for the vaccine varies from 6 weeks to 9 months, depending on the formulation used.

The MenB vaccine is given in two doses injected into a muscle. It can be given to people 10 years of age or older who have certain high-risk conditions. However, it may also be given to anyone 16 to 23 years of age who wants it, even if they do not have certain high-risk conditions and are not at increased risk of getting the infection. The preferred age for vaccination is 16 to 18 years.

The meningococcal vaccine is also recommended for the following adolescents and adults:

If people have a temporary illness, doctors usually wait to give the vaccine until the illness resolves (see also CDC: Who Should NOT Get Vaccinated With These Vaccines?).

Side Effects of Meningococcal Vaccine

The injection site may become sore, swollen, and red. Some people have headaches and feel tired. A few people have a fever.

More Information

The following English-language resources may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of these resources.

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