Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine
What is the meningococcal conjugate vaccine?
The meningococcal vaccine is an injection given to protect you from certain types of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease is an illness caused by an infection from meningococci bacteria. The infection may cause serious disease, such as meningitis. Meningitis is an infection that causes swelling of the fluid and lining that covers your brain and spinal cord. Meningococcal disease is spread from person to person through the air. The vaccine is given in your upper arm. It begins to protect you 1 to 2 weeks after you get it and may protect you for 3 to 5 years.
Who should get the meningococcal conjugate vaccine?
- Children: The first dose is usually given to children when they are 11 to 12 years old. If your child does not get his first dose by age 12, he should get it when he is 13 to 15 years old. A booster dose is given at age 16. Your child will not need a booster dose if he gets the first dose when he is 16 to 18 years old.
- High risk of meningitis: The vaccine is especially important for anyone who lives in student housing, because meningitis spreads quickly in close quarters. Adults and children who live, work, or travel in areas where meningococcal infections are common should also get the vaccine. The vaccine is a required shot for persons in the military. The vaccine is suggested for microbiologists who are routinely exposed to meningococcus germs.
- Injury to or loss of spleen: The spleen is an organ that helps fight infection. Anyone 2 years to 18 years with a damaged or removed spleen will need the vaccine.
- Compromised immune system: Adults and children 11 to 18 years old with HIV may need the vaccine if they have other risk factors. Examples are those who live in student housing or travel to areas where meningococcal infections are found. Persons with HIV should receive 2 doses at least 8 weeks apart. Adults and children 9 months to 18 years with persistent complement component deficiency (PCCD) are also at risk. Persons with PCCD, a damaged spleen, or no spleen should get 2 doses given 2 months apart. A booster dose is given every 5 years.
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women: Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may get this vaccine.
Who should not get the meningococcal conjugate vaccine?
- Anyone who is sick or has a fever.
- Anyone who has had an allergic reaction to MCV or other vaccines in the past.
- Children with PCCD who are younger than 9 months will not receive the vaccine unless they are at high risk.
- Children with asplenia who are younger than 24 months will not receive the vaccine unless they are at high risk.
What are the risks of the meningococcal conjugate vaccine?
The most common problems are redness, warmth, swelling, or pain where the shot was given. This may last for 1 to 2 days. You may also feel mildly unwell or get a headache or mild fever. Most people do not have an allergic response to the vaccine.
What should I do for a serious allergic response to the meningococcal conjugate vaccine?
Tell healthcare providers that you received the MCV. Tell them the date and time it was given. Call 911 if you have any of the following signs and symptoms of a serious allergic reaction:
- Redness or swelling of the face
- Hives or a rash that spreads over the body
- Weakness or dizziness
- Swelling of the mouth and throat
- Wheezing or trouble breathing
- Loss of consciousness
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