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Children's Vaccines Health Center

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Meningococcal Vaccine


Who Should Get Which Meningococcal Vaccine and When? continued...

The vaccine may be given to pregnant women. However, since MCV4 and MenB are newer vaccines, there is limited data about their effect on pregnant women. They should only be used if clearly needed.

Anyone who is allergic to any component used in the vaccine should not get the vaccine. It's important to tell your doctor about all your allergies.

People with mild illness such as a cold or congestion can usually get the vaccine. But people who are moderately or severely ill at the time of vaccine administration should wait until they recover.

Anyone with a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome should discuss their history with their doctor before getting a vaccination.

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 or coincidental.

What Are the Risks of GBS With the MCV4 Vaccine?

Between 2005 and 2012, more than 18 million doses of MCV4 were distributed. It's uncertain how many of those have actually been given. In that same time period, there have been 99 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 Amita Shroff, MD on July 07, 2015
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