Meningococcal Vaccine

(MCV4; MPSV4; Serogroup B Meningococcal Vaccines)

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 1 year old
  • 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 seizures or strokes . 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 Is the Meningococcal Vaccine?

There are 3 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
  • Serogroup B meningococcal vaccines
These vaccines are made from parts of the meningococcal bacteria. They do not contain live bacteria.

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