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Meningococcal Vaccine

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What Are the Side Effects From the Meningococcal Vaccines?

With any vaccine, there is the potential of a severe allergic reaction within a few minutes to a few hours after the shot. But the likelihood that the meningococcal vaccines would cause a severe reaction is extremely slight.

About one out of every two people who get the shot experience mild reactions such as redness or a mild pain where the shot was given. Those usually go away in one to two days. A small percentage of people develop a mild fever.

There have been reports that a few people have been diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) after receiving MCV4. But experts say it occurs so rarely that it's not possible to tell if it's related to the vaccine.

What Are the Risks of GBS With the MCV4 Vaccine?

Since 2005, more than 15 million doses of MCV4 have been distributed. It's uncertain how many of those have actually been given. In that same time period, there have been 26 confirmed cases of GBS, a serious nervous system disorder, reported within six weeks of the vaccine being taken. There is not enough data at this time to tell whether or not the vaccine was a factor. But analysis of the data suggests that the incidence of GBS is no higher for people receiving the vaccine than the incidence of GBS in the general population.

Still, the timing of the onset of symptoms has raised concern. The CDC is continuing to study the issue and has recommended that people be told about the study when they are considering the vaccine. The current opinion is that even if there is a slight increase in the risk of GBS, it's significantly outweighed by the risk of meningococcal disease without the vaccine.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on August 17, 2014
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