The meningococcal vaccines protect against meningococcal disease, a serious bacterial infection that can lead to bacterial meningitis.
Two kinds of meningococcal vaccines are currently given to kids in the United States.
Vaccination with MCV4 is recommended:
Those who have their first dose between the ages of 13-15 should receive a booster dose between the ages of 16-18. If the first dose is given after age 16 (for example, for previously unvaccinated college freshmen who will be living in a dormitory setting or those entering the military), no booster dose is required.
The MenB vaccine may be considered for all teens and young adults (ages 16 through 23). The preferred age for vaccination is 16–18 years old. Two or three doses are needed depending on the brand. The decision to receive this vaccine should be made by the teen, together with his or her parents and doctor.
Some kids are at higher risk for meningococcal disease, including those who:
Children aged 2 months to 10 years with these risk factors should receive a full series of the MCV4 vaccines. The sequence and dosage will depend on the child's age.
Children 10 years and up with these risk factors should receive a full series of the MenB vaccines.
Meningococcal disease is caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitides. It can cause an infection of the bloodstream or meningitis, or both, and can be life threatening if not promptly treated. The MCV4 vaccine is very effective at protecting against four strains of the meningococcal bacteria, while the MenB vaccine protects against a fifth strain.
Some of the most common side effects are swelling, redness, and pain at the site of the injection, along with headache, fever, or fatigue. Severe problems, such as allergic reactions, are rare.
The vaccine is not recommended if:
If your child has a history of Guillain-Barré syndrome (a disease of the nervous system that causes progressive weakness), talk to your doctor about whether the vaccines are a good idea.
Your child might experience fever, soreness, and some swelling and redness in the area where the shot was given. Pain and fever may be treated with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Check with your doctor to see if you can give either medication and to find out the appropriate dose.
A warm, damp cloth or a heating pad also may help reduce soreness. Moving or using the limb that has received the injection often reduces the soreness.