Meningococcal disease is a serious bacterial illness. It is the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children 2 through 18 years of age in the United States. It can also cause blood infections (sepsis). About 1,000 to 2,600 people get meningococcal disease each year in the U.S. Even when treated with antibiotics, up to 15% of these people will die and up to 19% will have permanent complications.
Meningococcal bacteria are primarily spread when an infected person sneezes or coughs. However, meningococcal bacteria are not highly contagious. In fact, only about 3% to 4% of household contacts become ill when a family member is infected.
Symptoms of meningococcal disease vary depending on the location of the infection. In cases of meningococcal meningitis, symptoms include sudden onset of fever, headache, stiff neck, nausea/vomiting, eye sensitivity to light, and altered mental status. In cases of meningococcal sepsis, symptoms include abrupt onset of fever, rash, low blood pressure, shock-like symptoms, and possible organ failure. Meningococcal disease can also present as pneumonia, arthritis, ear infections, or epiglottitis. Treatment for all types of meningococcal disease is antibiotics.
There are three meningococcal vaccines and one combination
meningococcal vaccine. All are inactivated vaccines. The first three
can prevent meningococcal disease caused by four different types of
meningococcal bacteria. Menveo is approved for persons 2 months through
55 years of age. Menactra is approved for persons 9 months through 55
years of age. Menomune is approved for persons 2 years of age and older,
but in mainly used for persons 56 years and older. Menhibrix is
approved for persons 6 weeks through 18 months of age who need to
receive meningococcal and Hib vaccines.
Product: Menactra® (Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine)
Manufacturer: Sanofi Pasteur
Year licensed: 2005
Product: Menomune® (Meningococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine)
Manufacturer: Sanofi Pasteur
Year licensed: 1978
Product: Menveo® (Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine)
Manufacturer: Novartis Vaccines
Year licensed: 2010
Product: Menhibrix® (Hib (tetanus toxoid conjugate) and Meningococcal groups C and Y)
Year licensed: 2012
* Multidose Menomune contains thimerosal. Menomune stopper contains latex.
Single dose for persons 2-55 years of age, routinely recommended at 11-12 years
4-dose series at 2, 4, 6, and 12 months of age for persons starting series at 2 months of age
2-dose series with second dose given in second year of life and
at least 3 months after the first dose for persons 7-23 month of age
2 doses, 2 months apart for persons 2 through 54 years of age
with persistent complement component deficiency, functional or anatomic
asplenia, or HIV infection
See below for booster dose information
Pregnant or breastfeeding women may receive the vaccine if they are in a group for whom the vaccine is indicated.