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Children's Vaccines Health Center

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The Meningitis Vaccines: What Parents Should Know

Who should not get a meningococcal vaccine?

Your preteen or teen shouldn't get the meningococcal vaccine if he or she:

  • Has had a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction to a meningococcal vaccine before or to any vaccine component
  • Is moderately or severely ill (reschedule when you are well)
  • Has ever had Guillain-Barre syndrome

Pregnant women can get the meningococcal vaccine, but it's only recommended for those with certain immune problems or those likely to be exposed to meningitis. With the newer MCV4 and MenB vaccines, there hasn't been as much study in pregnant women compared to the MPSV4 vaccine.

What are the side effects of meningococcal vaccines?

Mild side effects happen in about half those who get the vaccine. They may include redness or pain where the skin was injected. These side effects last no longer than 1 or 2 days.

Serious side effects are rare and can include high fever, weakness, and changes in behavior.

Severe allergic reactions may happen within minutes or hours of having the vaccination. These are signs of an allergic reaction:

If these signs appear, your child should get to a doctor right away, describe the reaction, and report it by filing a Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) form. The doctor or health department can help with this.

Guillain-Barre syndrome is a serious nervous system disorder that has shown up in some people who have received MCV4. It is so rare that doctors are not sure that there is a clear link to the vaccine.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on August 14, 2015
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