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Meningococcal Vaccine: What You Need to Know

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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.

Meningococcal vaccines may be given to pregnant women.  However, MCV4 is a new vaccine and has not been studied in pregnant women as much as MPSV4 has.  It should be used only if clearly needed.

Meningococcal vaccines may be given at the same time as other vaccines.

5. What are the risks from meningococcal vaccine?

A vaccine, like any medicine, could possibly cause serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. The risk of meningococcal vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small.

Mild problems

As many as half the people who get meningococcal vaccines have mild side effects, such as redness or pain where the shot was given. 

If these problems occur, they usually last for 1 or 2 days.  They are more common after MCV4 than after MPSV4.

A small percentage of people who receive the vaccine develop a fever.

Severe problems

Serious allergic reactions, within a few minutes to a few hours of the shot, are very rare.

A serious nervous system disorder called Guillain-Barre Syndrome (or G.B.S.) has been reported among some people who received M.C.V. 4.  This happens so rarely that it is currently not possible to tell if the vaccine might be a factor.  Even if it is, the risk is very small.

6. What if there is a moderate or severe reaction?

What should I look for?

Any unusual condition, such as a high fever, weakness, or behavior changes. Signs of a serious allergic reaction can include difficulty breathing, hoarseness or wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heart beat or dizziness.

WebMD Public Information from the CDC

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