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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 or she gets it and may protect him or her for 3 to 5 years.

Who should get the meningococcal vaccine?

  • Children usually get the first dose at 11 or 12 years. If your child does not get the first dose by age 12, he or she should get it between 13 and 18 years. If the first dose is given between 13 and 15 years a booster dose is given between 16 and 18 years. The booster will be given at least 8 weeks after the first dose. Your child will not need a booster if he or she gets the first dose between 16 and 18 years.
  • 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)
    • Use of a medicine called eculizumab (Soliris®)
    • 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 or she 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 or she 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. Your child may feel tried, or he or she may get a headache, mild fever, or chills. Your child may also have muscle or joint pain, or nausea or diarrhea. These symptoms may last up to 7 days. Rarely, 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 or her 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 or her body.
  • Your child says he or she 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.

Further information

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