Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine for Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

The meningococcal (say "muh-nin-juh-KAW-kul") shot protects your child against a type of bacteria that causes meningitis and blood infections (sepsis).

  • All children need three doses of the conjugate vaccine. The ages at which the vaccine is given varies by province. Talk with your doctor or public health nurse about when your child should get the shots.
  • Teens and young adults ages 12 to 24 who haven't had these shots should get them as soon as possible. This includes university freshmen who live in dormitories.

If your child has a damaged or missing spleen or has certain immune system problems, he or she may need a booster dose every few years. Talk with your doctor about when your child needs a booster shot.

Children at high risk

Children at high risk include those with missing or damaged spleens, those with certain immune system problems, and children who travel to areas where meningitis is common.

  • Children at high risk need more shots. Talk with your doctor or public health nurse about how many doses your child needs and when they should be given.
  • As long as children remain at high risk, they will need a booster every few years. Talk with your doctor or public health nurse about how often a booster is needed.

The shot may cause pain in the area where the shot is given. It may also cause a fever.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for fever or for pain at the shot area. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 18. It has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
  • Do not give a child two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on the sore area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child has a seizure.
  • Your child has symptoms of a severe allergic reaction. These may include:
    • Sudden raised, red areas (hives) all over the body.
    • Swelling of the throat, mouth, lips, or tongue.
    • Trouble breathing.
    • Passing out (losing consciousness). Or your child may feel very light-headed or suddenly feel weak, confused, or restless.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as:
    • A rash or hives (raised, red areas on the skin).
    • Itching.
    • Swelling.
    • Belly pain, nausea, or vomiting.
  • Your child has a high fever.
  • Your child cries for 3 hours or more within 2 to 3 days after getting the shot.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if your child has any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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Current as of: September 24, 2016