Many colleges require students to get a meningococcal vaccine before moving into a dorm. Some summer camps also require it. And there's good reason.
Meningococcal disease can become life threatening quickly, and teens are at higher risk of getting it. It's a leading cause of bacterial meningitis in teens. Meningitis is a dangerous inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord. Two meningitis vaccines protects against four types of meningococcal disease. An additional type of vaccine protects against serotype B, which also causes meningitis.
Did You Know?
Under the Affordable Care Act, many health insurance plans will provide free preventive care services, including checkups, vaccinations and screening tests, to children and teens. Learn more.
Of the 1,000-2,600 people who get meningococcal disease each year, one-third are teens and young adults. Ten percent to 15% of those who get sick with the disease will die, even with antibiotic treatment. As many as 20% will have permanent side effects, such as hearing loss or brain damage.
In the U.S., three meningococcal vaccines are available:
Meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (MPSV4), sold as Menomune
Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4), sold as Menactra, MenHibrix, and Menveo.
Serogroup B meningococcal vaccine, sold as Trumenba and Bexsero.
MPSV4 and MCV4 can prevent four types of meningococcal disease, which make up about 70% of the cases in the U.S.
The MenB vaccines prevent the Meningococcal B strain.
MCV4 is preferred for people age 55 and younger. The recommendation for teens is one dose at age 11 and one dose at age 16. The doctor or nurse injects one dose into the muscle. If MCV4 is not available, you can use MPSV4. The doctor or nurse injects one dose beneath the skin.
MPSV4 is the only meningococcal vaccine approved for use in people over 55.
The MenB vaccines are recommended for ages 10-24, by the CDC for high risk patients, but can also be used in older adults. Trumenda is administered in three doses while Bexseero requires two doses.
Who needs a meningococcal vaccine?
The CDC recommends a meningococcal vaccine for:
All children ages 11-18 or certain younger high-risk children
Anyone who has been exposed to meningitis during an outbreak
Anyone traveling to or living where meningitis is common, such as in sub-Saharan Africa