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Meningococcal Disease & Vaccine Information
Meningococcal: The Disease
Meningococcal disease is a bacterial illness caused by the aerobic, gram-negative bacteria Neisseria meningitidis (N. meningitidis). Thirteen types (serogroups) of N. Meningitidis or meningococci have been identified with six found to be responsible for epidemics resulting in invasive meningococcal disease. Meningitis is the most common presentation of invasive meningococcal disease and accounts for approximately 75 percent of all cases.
Symptoms of meningitis begin to appear between 3 and 7 days after exposure to meningococcal bacteria. At first, symptoms may appear mild and similar to cold or flu symptoms and may include headache, fever, aches, and pains. As the illness progresses, additional symptoms can include skin rash, severe headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, inability to look at bright lights, mental confusion and irritability, extreme fatigue/sleepiness, convulsions, and unconsciousness. In babies, symptoms can include a high-pitched moaning cry, difficulty or refusal to feed, and the fontanel (the soft area on the top of the head) may also be bulging. Learn more about Meningococcal…
There are five FDA approved meningococcal vaccines currently available for use in the United States that target a total of five out of the 13 meningococcal serotypes. Menectra (Sanofi Pasteur), Menveo (Novartis/GlaxoSmithKline), and MenQuadfi (Sanofi Pasteur) conjugate vaccines target serogroups A, C, Y and W-135 meningococcal bacteria. BEXSERO (Novartis/GlaxoSmithKline) and TRUMENBA (Wyeth/Pfizer) recombinant vaccines target serogroup B meningococcal bacteria. Menactra was discontinued by the manufacturer in 2022.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that the first dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine targeting serogroups A, C, Y and W-135 (Menectra or Menveo) be administered at age 11-12 with a second booster dose given at the age of 16. ACIP also recommends that high risk children between 2 months and 10 years and high-risk adults be vaccinated with meningococcal conjugate vaccine. While the CDC recommends meningococcal serogroup B vaccines for high risk adults, meningococcal group B vaccines have not received FDA approved for use in persons over the age of 25. TRUMENBA and BEXSERO vaccines are not interchangeable and the same vaccine brand must be used for all administered doses. Learn more about Meningococcal vaccine…
Meningococcal Quick Facts
- Meningococcal disease is a serious and potentially life-threatening illness caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitides. Most frequently, the illness can result in inflammation of the meninges of the brain (meningitis) and a serious bloodstream infection (septicemia/meningococcemia). Invasive meningococcal disease can also present as arthritis and pneumonia.
- Meningococcal disease is not easily spread and requires one to be susceptible to the infection and to have regular close contact with a person who is colonizing the bacteria.
- Meningococcal rates are low in the U.S. and have steadily declined since the 1990’s. In 2020, there were approximately 235 cases in the U.S. Of these cases 26 percent were unknown and ungroupable serotypes with 20 percent occurring in children too young to be vaccinated. For 2020, 23 death were reported, or less than ten percent of cases. Individuals most at risk for contracting meningococcal disease are infants, adolescents, young adults and seniors. Continue reading quick facts…
- There are five FDA approved meningococcal vaccines currently available for use in the U.S. Two vaccines, Menactra (Sanofi Pasteur), Menveo (Novartis/GlaxoSmithKline), and MedQuadfi (Sanofi Pasteur) conjugate vaccines target serogroups A, C, Y and W-135 meningococcal bacteria and two vaccines, BEXSERO (Novartis/GlaxoSmithKline) and TRUMENBA (Wyeth/Pfizer) recombinant vaccines target serogroup B meningococcal bacteria. Menactra was discontinued by the manufacturer in 2022.
- The CDC recommends all children receive their first dose of meningococcal serogroup A, C, Y and W-135 conjugate vaccine at age 11-12 and an additional booster dose at age 16. The booster dose recommendation was made in 2010 after studies noted that only 50 percent of adolescents vaccinated at age 11-12 had sufficient vaccine acquired antibodies to protect them against meningococcal disease five years post-vaccination.
- The serogroup B recombinant vaccines are available for use and should be considered by adolescents between 16 and 23 years of age, however, they are not routinely recommended as part of the vaccination schedule. In 2015, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) declined to routinely recommend vaccination with the serogroup B vaccines. The committee came to this conclusion after evaluating multiple factors including the high number of people that would require vaccination in order to prevent a single case of meningococcal disease, the low rates of the disease, the vaccine’s cost, lack of efficacy and safety data as well as the potential risk that serious adverse reactions would exceed the number of cases potentially prevented from the vaccine.
- In 2020 for meningococcal cases, 85.7 percent of college students (18-24 years) and 69.2 percent of persons not attending college (18-24 years) had received at least one dose of MenACWY vaccine. For this same age group and college status, 14.3 percent of college students and 18.2 percent of persons not attending college had received at least one dose of MenB vaccine. Continue reading quick facts…
NVIC encourages you to become fully informed about Meningococcal and the Meningococcal vaccine by reading all sections in the table of contents, which contain many links and resources such as the manufacturer product information inserts, and to speak with one or more trusted health care professionals before making a vaccination decision for yourself or your child. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.