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Immunization Schedule, Adults (cont.)

Meningococcal Infections

Meningococcal (Neisseria meningitidis) infections are most common in close living conditions (such as college dormitories, military barracks, or child-care centers). The infection may invade the bloodstream or the brain (meningitis). Symptoms come on rapidly and can sometimes be quite severe (leading to shock, coma, or death). Meningitis caused by meningococcal bacteria is difficult to distinguish from that of other bacteria that cause meningitis, making the disease more difficult to recognize and treat. Routine immunization in children is not recommended because the infection is rare, response to the vaccine is poor in young children, the immunity to meningococcal does not last in young children, and early vaccination may later impair response to the vaccine.

Types of meningococcal vaccine:

  • Meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (MPSV4): used for children 2-10 years of age
  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4): used for adolescents and adults (although MPSV4 is an acceptable alternative)
  • Serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) vaccine can help prevent meningococcal disease caused by Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B. Other meningococcal vaccines are recommended to help protect against Neisseria meningitidis serogroups A, C, W, and Y.

Who gets the vaccine:

  • Children 2 years of age or older in high-risk groups (those who have had their spleen removed or those with suppressed immune system, such as terminal complement deficiencies)
  • Adolescents 11-12 years of age and unvaccinated adolescents entering high school should be vaccinated with a single dose of a quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY). The CDC recommends a booster shot at age 16.
  • College students, military recruits, laboratory workers exposed to meningococcal vaccine components, and those traveling to hyperendemic or epidemic areas
    • Side effects: Pain, swelling and redness at site of injection may occur one to two days following immunization.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/20/2016

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