What You Need to Know
Meningococcal disease can refer to any illness caused by the type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis, also known as meningococcus [muh-ning-goh-KOK-us]. These illnesses are often severe and can be deadly. They include infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream infections (bacteremia or septicemia).
These bacteria spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions like spit (e.g., by living in close quarters, kissing). Doctors treat meningococcal disease with antibiotics, but quick medical attention is extremely important. Keeping up to date with recommended vaccines is the best defense against meningococcal disease.
Why you should vaccinate your child
Rates of meningococcal disease have been declining in the United States since the 1990s, with much of the decline seen before the routine use of meningococcal conjugate vaccines. Studies show that meningococcal conjugate vaccines provide protection to those vaccinated, but do not provide protection to the larger, unvaccinated community.
Who Should Get the Meningococcal Vaccine?
CDC recommends vaccination with meningococcal conjugate vaccine for all preteens and teens. In certain situations, other children and adults could be recommended to get the vaccines.
Preteens and Teens
There are two types of meningococcal vaccines for preteens and teens:
Meningococcal conjugate vaccines (Menactra® or Menveo®)
Serogroup B meningococcal vaccines (Bexsero® or Trumenba®)
Meningococcal ACWY strains (series of two)
Meningococcal B strain
16-18 years (series of two)
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