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meningococcal conjugate (Men-C-C)
meningococcal conjugate quadrivalent (Men-C-ACYW)
meningococcal polysaccharide (Men-P-ACYW-135)
multi-component vaccine (4CMenB)
Meningococcal vaccine is given to protect people from becoming infected with bacteria that cause meningitis. The vaccines contain small amounts of killed bacteria and are given as a shot (injection). This helps your body make antibodies that can recognize and destroy the bacteria if you are exposed to it later.
Meningitis is an infection of the fluid that surrounds the brain and the spinal cord. Meningococcal disease also causes infections in the blood. These infections can be serious and can even cause death or long-term health problems.
Scientists divide meningococcal bacteria into "groups." Within each type of vaccine are specific formulas that protect against the different groups of meningococcal bacteria. Just because you've been immunized against one group of meningococcal bacteria does not mean you are totally protected against getting meningococcal disease from a different group.
Two types of conjugate meningococcal vaccines (Men-C-C and Men-C-ACYW-135) and a multi-component meningococcal vaccine (4CMenB) are used for routine immunization. (A meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine, Men-P-ACYW-135, is available in Canada, but it is rarely recommended for routine use.) The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has made recommendations on who should get each kind of vaccine.footnote 1
Immunization schedules and requirements for vaccines vary by province and territory. You can keep track of when your child received vaccines using the National Childhood Immunization Record( What is a PDF document? ). Contact your local public health unit for more information.
The Men-C-C meningococcal vaccine works well. It protects about 97% of infants for one year after they get the vaccine and drops to 70% protection after one year. Booster shots of this vaccine are given to keep the protection level high. The Men-C-ACYW meningococcal vaccine works well and protects about 85% of people from meningococcal disease. The level of protection goes down over a period of years. Not enough information is available to say how long the 4CMenB vaccine protection lasts.
Meningococcal vaccines are safe medicines. Side effects are usually mild and may include:
Even though serious allergic reactions are rare with these medicines, call your doctor or local health unit right away if you or your child has trouble breathing, a high fever, or anything unusual after having the shot.
Tell your doctor or public health nurse if your child has had a severe reaction to any vaccine or has severe allergies.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
The menigococcal vaccine can be given at the same time as other routine childhood vaccinations.
The conjugate meningococcal vaccines (Men-C-C and Men-ACYW) may be used during pregnancy when the benefits of getting the vaccine outweighs the risk.
The conjugate (Men-C-C and Men-ACYW) and multi-component (4CMenB) vaccines may be given to women who are breastfeeding.
No evidence has shown that Canadian university students who live in dormitories or residence halls are at higher risk of getting meningococcal disease.footnote 2
CitationsPublic Health Agency of Canada (2015). Meningococcal vaccine. Canadian Immunization Guide. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/cig-gci/p04-meni-eng.php. Accessed January 8, 2016.National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) (2006). Menningococcal vaccine. In Canadian Immunization Guide, 7th ed., pp. 237–250. Ottawa: Public Health Agency of Canada.
Current as of: July 12, 2018
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:John Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics & Brian O'Brien, MD, FRCPC - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease & Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
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