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Meningococcal Vaccine for Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Apr 2, 2024.

What is the meningococcal vaccine?

The meningococcal vaccine is given as a shot 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. The vaccine may protect your child for 3 to 5 years.

When should my child get the meningococcal vaccine?

Your child's healthcare provider can help you choose the right vaccine for your child. The vaccine given depends on your child's age and risk for meningococcal infection. Your child may need more than 1 dose for full protection. Your child's provider will tell you when your child should get each dose.

Recommended Meningococcal Immunization Schedule

What are reasons my child should not get the meningococcal vaccine?

Treatment options

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

What are reasons my child may need to wait to get the meningococcal vaccine?

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, 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 develop severe shoulder pain that lasts longer than 2 days. Your child may have an 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 child's doctor?

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 healthcare providers 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.

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Further information

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