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Meningococcal Vaccine For Children

What is the meningococcal vaccine?

The meningococcal vaccine is an injection given to protect your child from certain types of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease is an infection caused by meningococci bacteria. The infection may cause serious disease, such as meningitis. Meningitis causes swelling of the fluid and lining that covers your child's brain and spinal cord. Meningococcal disease is spread from person to person through the air. The vaccine begins to protect your child 1 to 2 weeks after he gets it and may protect him for 3 to 5 years.

Who should get the meningococcal vaccine?

  • Children usually get the first dose 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.

  • Children at high risk may need multiple vaccine doses starting as early as 6 weeks old. Ask your child's healthcare provider when your child should get the vaccine. Any of the following can increase your child's risk for meningococcal disease:

    • A damaged or removed spleen, or sickle cell disease

    • Persistent complement component deficiency (PCCD)

    • Living in or traveling to areas where meningococcal infection is common

    • Exposure to the infection during an outbreak of the disease

    • HIV infection

Who should not get the meningococcal vaccine or should wait to get it?

  • Your child should not get the vaccine if he has had an allergic reaction to the vaccine or any component of the vaccine, such as thimerosal (mercury).

  • Your child should wait to get the vaccine if he is sick or has a fever.

What are the risks of the meningococcal vaccine?

The most common problems are redness, warmth, swelling, or pain where the shot was given. This may last for 1 to 2 days. Your child may not feel well, or he may get a headache or mild fever. Your child may have an allergic reaction to the vaccine. This can be life-threatening.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • Your child's mouth and throat are swollen.

  • Your child is wheezing or has trouble breathing.

  • Your child has chest pain or says his heart is beating fast.

  • Your child faints.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • Your child's face is red or swollen.

  • Your child has hives that spread over his body.

  • Your child says he feels weak or dizzy.

When should I contact my child's healthcare provider?

  • Your child has increased pain, redness, or swelling around the area where the shot was given.

  • You have questions or concerns about the meningococcal vaccine.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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