Medically reviewed on November 15, 2016.
What is meningococcal conjugate vaccine?
Meningococcal disease is a serious infection caused by a bacteria. Meningococcal bacteria can infect the spinal cord and brain, causing meningitis that can be fatal. Meningococcal disease can also lead to permanent and disabling medical problems.
Meningococcal disease can spread from one person to another through small droplets of saliva that are expelled into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The bacteria can also be passed through contact with objects the infected person has touched, such as a door handle or other surface. The bacteria can also be passed through kissing, or sharing a drinking glass or eating utensil with an infected person.
Meningococcal disease is more likely to occur in babies younger than 1 year, in young people ages 16 to 23 years, in anyone with a weak immune system, and in anyone exposed to an outbreak of the disease.
Meningococcal conjugate vaccine is used to prevent infection caused by meningococcal bacteria. The vaccine works by exposing you to a small dose of the bacteria or a protein from the bacteria, which causes your body to develop immunity to the disease. Meningococcal conjugate vaccine contains four of the most common types of meningococcal bacteria (serogroups A, C, W, and Y).
This vaccine will not treat an active meningococcal infection that has already developed in the body.
Meningococcal conjugate vaccine is for use in children and adults between the ages of 9 months and 55 years old.
Like any vaccine, meningococcal conjugate vaccine may not provide protection from disease in every person.
You should not receive this vaccine if you have ever had an allergic reaction to a meningococcal or diphtheria vaccine.
Before taking this medicine
You should not receive a meningococcal conjugate vaccine if you have ever had an allergic reaction to a meningococcal or a diphtheria vaccine.
If you have any of these other conditions, your vaccine may need to be postponed or not given at all:
pregnancy or breast-feeding;
a history of Guillain-Barré syndrome;
a history of premature birth;
a condition for which you are receiving steroids, chemotherapy, or radiation treatments; or
You can still receive a vaccine if you have a minor cold. In the case of a more severe illness with a fever or any type of infection, wait until you get better before receiving this vaccine.
It is not known whether meningococcal conjugate vaccine will harm an unborn baby. However, if you are pregnant, your doctor should determine whether you need this vaccine.
If you are pregnant, your name may be listed on a pregnancy registry. This is to track the outcome of the pregnancy and to evaluate any effects of this vaccine on the baby.
It is not known whether meningococcal conjugate vaccine passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
The Menactra brand of this vaccine should not be given to anyone younger than 9 months or older than 55 years of age. The Menveo brand should not be given to anyone younger than 2 months or older than 65 years of age.
How is this vaccine given?
Meningococcal conjugate vaccine is recommended if:
you have been exposed to an outbreak of meningococcal disease;
you are in the military;
you work in a laboratory and are exposed to meningococcal bacteria;
you live in a dormitory or other group housing;
you live in or travel to an area where meningococcal disease is common;
you have a medical problem affecting your spleen, or your spleen has been removed;
you have HIV;
you have an immune system disorder called "persistent complement component deficiency."
This vaccine is given as an injection (shot) into a muscle. You will receive this injection in a doctor's office or clinic setting.
Meningococcal conjugate vaccine is usually given only once. Children and people who have high risks of meningococcal infection may need booster doses.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends that all teens ages 11 to 12 years be vaccinated with a single dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine. A booster dose should be given at age 16 for continued protection when teens are at highest risk of meningococcal disease.
Your booster schedule may be different from these guidelines. Follow your doctor's instructions or the schedule recommended by your local health department.
Be sure to receive all recommended doses of this vaccine or you may not be fully protected against disease.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Contact your doctor if you miss a booster dose or if you get behind schedule. The next dose should be given as soon as possible. There is no need to start over.
What happens if I overdose?
An overdose of this vaccine is not likely to occur.
What should I avoid before or after receiving this vaccine?
Follow your doctor's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.
This vaccine side effects
Keep track of any and all side effects you have after receiving this vaccine. When you receive a booster dose, you will need to tell the doctor if the previous shot caused any side effects.
You should not receive a booster vaccine if you had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.
Becoming infected with meningococcal disease and developing meningitis (infection of the spinal cord and lining of the brain) is much more dangerous to your health than receiving this vaccine. However, like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects but the risk of serious side effects is extremely low.
You may feel faint after receiving this vaccine. Some people have had seizure-like reactions after receiving this vaccine. Your doctor may want you to remain under observation during the first 15 minutes after the injection.
Call your doctor at once if you have:
severe weakness or unusual feeling in your arms and legs (may occur 2 to 4 weeks after you receive the vaccine);
high fever; or
Common side effects may include:
redness, pain, swelling, or a hard lump where the shot was given;
headache, drowsiness, tired feeling;
joint or muscle pain;
vomiting, loss of appetite; or
(in babies) fussiness, irritability, crying for an hour or longer.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report vaccine side effects to the US Department of Health and Human Services at 1 800 822 7967.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect this vaccine?
Before receiving this vaccine, tell your doctor about all other vaccines you have recently received, especially:
Also tell the doctor if you have recently received drugs or treatments that can weaken the immune system, including:
an oral, nasal, inhaled, or injectable steroid medicine;
If you are using any of these medications, you may not be able to receive the vaccine, or may need to wait until the other treatments are finished.
This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with meningococcal conjugate vaccine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
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