What is meningococcal disease?

  • Meningococcal disease is a severe and sometimes fatal illness that is caused by Neisseria meningitidis bacteria.

  • Meningococcal disease can cause meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) and infections of the blood, which can lead to serious illness that causes long term disability and can sometimes be fatal.

Why should someone get the meningococcal vaccine?

  • The meningococcal vaccine protects against the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease.

  • The meningococcal vaccine also protects against infections of the lining of the brain, spinal cord, and bloodstream.

Who SHOULD get the meningococcal vaccine?

  • There are two types of meningococcal vaccines. Everyone should get a routine meningococcal ACWY vaccination starting at 11 to 12 years old, with a booster dose at 16 years old. Teenagers may also get a meningococcal B vaccine, preferably at 16 through 18 years old.

  • In certain situations, other children and adults should get meningococcal vaccines. Talk to your or your child’s clinician about what is best for your specific situation.

Who should NOT get the meningococcal vaccine?

  • People who have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction after a previous dose of a meningococcal vaccine.

  • People who have a severe allergy to any part of the vaccine. A clinician can tell you about the vaccine’s ingredients.

Who should talk with their healthcare provider before getting the meningococcal vaccine?

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women should talk with a clinician to decide if the benefits of getting the vaccine outweigh the risk.

For up-to-date information about the meningococcal vaccine, go to the CDC’s website. You can also talk with your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the meningococcal vaccine and your personal health. See more information about the meningococcal ACWY vaccine. See more information about the meningococcal B vaccine.

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