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Meningitis (meningococcal) vaccine

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Vaccines offered at Walgreens vary by state, age and health conditions. Talk to your local pharmacist about availability.
Quick facts
Recommended for
Children ages 11–12+
and specific groups
Frequency
1 dose at ages 11–12
with booster at age 16

What is meningitis?

Meningitis is a rare but serious infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord and is caused by meningococcal disease, a serious bacterial illness. Meningococcal disease is a leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children ages 2–18 in the United States and may also result in blood infections. Symptoms of meningitis can include fever, stiff neck, eye sensitivity to light, purple-spotted rash, a drop in blood pressure, headache, nausea and vomiting.

Anyone can get meningococcal disease, but it is most common in infants younger than 12 months and people with certain medical conditions, such as a removed spleen. Meningococcal disease is contagious and is commonly spread by close contact, such as by coughing or living in the same household. College freshmen who live in dormitories and teenagers ages 15–19 are at increased risk of getting meningococcal disease.

Meningitis is potentially fatal. Even with antibiotic treatment, 10–15 percent of infected people are at risk of death. As many as 20 percent of people who survive the infection may lose a limb, become deaf or develop serious long-term medical conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Vaccines can help prevent meningococcal disease, which is any type of illness caused by Neisseria meningitidis bacteria. There are 2 types of meningococcal vaccines available in the United States:
    • Meningococcal conjugate (MenACWY) vaccines Menactra® and Menveo®
    • Serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) vaccines Bexsero® and Trumenba®

    All children ages 11–12 should get a meningococcal conjugate vaccine, with a booster dose at 16 years.

    Teens and young adults ages 16–23 may receive a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine.

    The CDC also recommends meningococcal vaccination for other children and adults who are at increased risk for meningococcal disease.

    To learn more about the meningitis vaccines from the CDC, visit the CDC website or download the following documents:

    Meningococcal ACWY vaccine (PDF) ›

    Meningococcal B vaccine (PDF) ›

  • People who are at increased risk for meningococcal disease should get vaccinated, including:
    • Adolescents and young adults ages 16–23
    • People with certain medical conditions that affect the immune system
    • Microbiologists who routinely work with isolates of Neisseria meningitidis, the bacteria that causes meningococcal disease
    • People at risk because of an outbreak in their community
    • People who have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction after a previous dose of that meningococcal vaccine
    • You have a severe allergy to any part of the vaccine – ask your healthcare provider about any of the ingredients

    Because of age or health conditions, some people should not get certain vaccines or should wait before getting them. Talk to your doctor of pharmacist for more information.

  • Mild-to-moderate side effects:
    • Soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site
    • Fever, muscle aches and drowsiness

    There is a rare risk of severe reactions including severe allergic reactions or other serious injury.

    Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help ease pain and reduce fever. Contact your doctor or pharmacist if you have any unexpected or worsening reactions after receiving a vaccine.

If you believe you have a medical emergency, please call 911.

References:

Hamborsky J, Kroger A, Wolfe S, eds. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. 13th ed. Washington, DC: Public Health Foundation, 2015.

Meningococcal ACWY Vaccines (MenACWY and MPSV4). What you need to know. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). August 1, 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/mening.pdf. Accessed March 2020.


Serogroup B Meningococcal (MenB). What you need to know. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). August 15, 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/mening-serogroup.pdf. Accessed March 2020.


This publication should be used for general educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Although it is intended to be accurate, neither Walgreen Co., its subsidiaries or affiliates, nor any other party assumes liability for loss or damage due to reliance on this publication.