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Children's Vaccines Health Center

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Meningococcal Vaccine: What You Need to Know


MCV4 should also be better at preventing the disease from spreading from person to person.

3. Who should get meningococcal vaccine and when?

MCV4 is recommended for all children and adolescents 11 through 18 years of age.

This dose is normally given during the routine preadolescent immunization visit (at 11 to 12 years of age).  But those who did not get the vaccine during this visit should get it at the earliest opportunity.

Meningococcal vaccine is also recommended for other people at increased risk for meningococcal disease: 

  • College freshmen living in dormitories.
  • Microbiologists who are routinely exposed to meningococcal bacteria.
  • U.S. military recruits.
  • Anyone traveling to, or living in, a part of the world where meningococcal disease is common, such as parts of Africa.
  • Anyone who has a damaged spleen, or whose spleen has been removed.
  • Anyone who has terminal complement component deficiency (an immune system disorder).
  • People who might have been exposed to meningitis during an outbreak.

MCV4 is the preferred vaccine for people 2 through 55 years of age in these risk groups.

MPSV4 can be used if MCV4 is not available and for adults over 55.

How Many Doses?

People 2 years of age and older should get 1 dose. Sometimes an additional dose is recommended for people who remain at high risk.  Ask your provider.

MPSV4 may be recommended for children 3 months to 2 years of age under special circumstances. These children should get 2 doses, 3 months apart.

4. Some people should not get meningococcal vaccine or should wait.

Anyone who has ever had a severe (life-threatening) allergic reaction to a previous dose of either meningococcal vaccine should not get another dose.

Anyone who has a severe (life threatening) allergy to any vaccine component should not get the vaccine.  Tell your doctor if you have any severe allergies.

Anyone who is moderately or severely ill at the time the shot is scheduled should probably wait until they recover.  Ask your provider.  People with a mild illness can usually get the vaccine.

Anyone who has ever had Guillain-Barre Syndrome should talk with their provider before getting MCV4.

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