Meningococcal disease is caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitides. It is very rare, however once infected, the disease can progress quickly and have serious consequences.
Normally, some people get the infection in their throat or nose without getting sick. In rare cases, the infection can cause serious illness and spread to others. It can lead to meningitis (a brain infection), septicemia (a blood infection), as well as complications like hearing loss, brain damage, loss of limbs and even death.
Meningococcal disease can affect people of any age. However, it is most common in children under five years old, teens and young adults who are not vaccinated against the disease.
There are many strains of meningococcal infection that can cause illness. Strains A, B, C, Y, W-135 have a vaccine to prevent infection. See a health care provider right away if you have any symptoms of meningococcal disease.
Meningococcal B vaccine provides protection against disease caused by the B strain. It is given to people who are a close contact of someone with meningococcal B to prevent this serious infection. Meningococcal B vaccine provides a strong immune response. Two doses provide better protection than one. Two or more doses are needed for the best protection. The second dose is given four to eight weeks after the first dose based on age.
Routine childhood and teen vaccination schedules do not include the meningococcal B vaccine. The meningococcal vaccine typically given from a doctor’s office is a different vaccine. The meningococcal B vaccine is free for close contacts of a confirmed case of meningococcal B infection, and in an outbreak setting. Most people will receive two doses. The vaccine is also free for children between two months to 17 years of age if they are at higher risk of severe disease, including the following medical conditions:
For all other individuals, the vaccine is available through private purchase and can be given by your health care provider. Some parents may have purchased this vaccine for their child. Speak to your health care provider if you have questions about getting vaccinated.
The vaccine is safe, effective and generally well tolerated. Common side effects include pain and swelling where the vaccine was given, headache, and feeling tired or unwell for a short time after receiving the vaccine. A fever can also occur following vaccination. Treatment with over the counter medications for side effects is effective. Symptoms usually resolve in a few days.
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.
Individuals with a history of anaphylaxis after a previous dose of a 4CMenB or Men B-fHBP vaccine and individuals with proven immediate or anaphylactic hypersensitivity to any component of the vaccine or its container should not receive the vaccine.
Precautions should be taken for the following individuals who: