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Meningococcal Vaccine for Adults

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Apr 2, 2024.

What is the meningococcal vaccine?

The meningococcal vaccine is given as a shot to protect you 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 brain and spinal cord. Meningococcal disease is spread from person to person through the air. The vaccine begins to protect you 1 to 2 weeks after you get it. The vaccine may protect you for 3 to 5 years.

When should I get the meningococcal vaccine?

Your healthcare provider will help you decide which meningococcal vaccine to get. Your provider will also tell you how many doses you need and when to get each dose. You will need at least 1 dose if you have a low risk for meningococcal disease. You will need 2 or 3 doses if you have a high risk. You may need a booster dose 1 year after having meningococcal vaccines for the first time. You will need a booster dose every 2 to 5 years depending on which vaccine you get and if you continue to have a high risk.

What increases my risk for meningococcal disease?

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

Treatment options

The following list of medications are related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

What are the risks of the meningococcal vaccine?

The most common problems are redness, warmth, swelling, or pain where the shot was given. You may feel tired, or you may get a headache, fever, or chills. You may also have muscle or joint pain, or nausea or diarrhea. These symptoms may last up to 7 days. Rarely, you may develop severe shoulder pain that lasts longer than 2 days. You may have a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine. This can be life-threatening.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I call my doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.