Who should get meningococcal vaccine and when?
- Meningococcal vaccine is not routinely recommended for people. People who should get the vaccine include: U.S. Military recruits, people who might be affected during an outbreak of certain types of meningococcal disease, anyone traveling to, or living in, apart of the world where meningococcal disease is common such as West Africa, anyone who has a damaged spleen, or whose spleen has been removed, and anyone who has a terminal complement component deficiency (an immune system disorder).
- The vaccine should also be considered for: some laboratory workers who are routinely exposed to meningococcal bacteria.
- The vaccine may also be given to college students who choose to be vaccinated. College freshman, especially those who live in dormitories, and their parents should discuss the risk and benefits of vaccination with their health care providers.
How many doses will I need?
- For people 2 years of age and over: 1 dose (Sometimes an additional dose is recommended for people who continue to be at high risk.)
Some people should not get the vaccine or should wait
- People should not get meningococcal vaccine if they have ever had a serious allergic reaction to previous dose of the vaccine.
- People who are mildly ill at the time the shot is scheduled can still get meningococcal vaccine. People with moderate or severe illnesses should usually wait until they recover. Your provider can advise you.
- Meningococcal vaccine may be given to pregnant women.
What are the risk from meningococcal vaccine ?
- A vaccine, like any medicine is capable of causing serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. The risk of the meningococcal vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small.
- Getting meningococcal vaccine is much safer than getting the disease.
- Mild problems: Some people who get meningococcal vaccine have mild side effects, such as redness or pain where the shot was given. These symptoms usually last for 1-2 days. A small percentage of people who receive the vaccine develop a fever.
What if there is a serious reaction?
- Look for any unusual condition, such as a severe allergic reaction, high fever, or unusual behavior. if a serious allergic reaction occurred, it would happen within a few minutes to a few hours after the shot. Signs of a serious allergic reaction can include difficulty breathing, weakness, hoarseness or wheezing, a fast heart beat, hives, dizziness, paleness, or swelling of the throat.
What should I do in case of a serious reaction?
- Call your health care provider, or get the person to the doctor right away. Tell your doctor what happened, the date and time it happened, and when the vaccine was given. Ask your health care provider to file a Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) form, or call VAERS yourself at 1-800-822-7967.
National Center for Infectious Disease/ Meningococcal Disease Website