Meningococcal – A, C, Y, W-135 Vaccine
Updated October 2018
Menactra®, Menveo™, Nimenrix®
Meningococcal disease is very rare, however once infected, the disease can progress quickly and with serious consequences. The bacteria can infect the lining of the brain. This infection is called meningitis, which can lead to stroke, hearing loss or seizures. A blood infection can lead to organ failure, shock and/or amputation. There are many strains of meningococcal infection that can cause illness, including strains A, B, C, Y, and W-135.
Ten percent of the population carry this bacteria in their nose or throat without becoming ill. The bacteria is spread through close contact, such as in kissing or sharing water bottles. Children under five years of age; teens and seniors are at greater risk of infection.
Routine childhood vaccination, given at one year of age, protects against the C-strain of the bacteria. The meningococcal quadrivalent vaccine, given in Grade 7, protects against four strains of the bacteria: A, C, Y, and W-135 and is 80 to 85 per cent effective for teenagers. Vaccine effectiveness decreases over time.
People Who Should Not Get the Vaccine
The vaccine is not recommended for anyone with a serious reaction to diphtheria or tetanus toxoid (found in some vaccines).
Talk to your healthcare provider if you have a bleeding or neurological disorder. As a precaution, if you have a fever, delay getting the vaccine until you are feeling better.
Vaccine Side Effects and Risks
The vaccine is safe, effective and generally well tolerated. Reactions are usually mild. Common side effects include pain and redness where the vaccine was given, headache, and feeling tired or unwell for a short time after receiving the vaccine. Less common side effects may include loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea and fever.
In rare cases, serious allergic reactions such as trouble breathing, rash, swelling in the throat and face may occur. Allergic reactions can be treated and are temporary. Please stay at the clinic for 15 minutes following vaccination for staff to monitor for reactions. There are no long-term side effects associated with this vaccine.
Vaccine Eligibility and Cost
Students, ages 12 years and older need one dose or may face suspension from school.
The vaccine is funded in Ontario for Grade 7 students through public health units and for outbreak control. High school students who did not receive the vaccine in Grade 7 are still eligible. Some individuals with health conditions may also be eligible for the publicly funded vaccine. This vaccine may be needed for career or travel purposes and can be purchased at local pharmacies or travel clinics. Price for one-dose is approximately $125. Talk to your health care provider or check with your private health insurance if you are not eligible for the free vaccine.
- Talk to your healthcare provider.
- Call our Immunization Information Centre at 416-392-1250.