Last updated: October 6, 2022

As part of Toronto Public Health’s continued response to an outbreak of invasive meningococcal disease, residents 20 to 36 years of age are advised to check their immunization record to confirm they have received a dose of meningococcal vaccine. If not, please contact your healthcare provider or book an appointment at a City-run clinic.

Vaccine Brands:  MenjugateTM, NeisVac-CTM

Invasive Meningococcal Disease (IMD)

Meningococcal infection is a very rare but serious disease. Most invasive meningococcal disease is caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis serogroups A, B, C, Y and W-135. It can lead to meningitis, an infection of the brain, spinal cord and sepsis, a blood infection.

The infection is spread by kissing, coughing, sharing common items such as eating utensils, cups, cigarettes, music instruments and other contact where saliva is passed from one person to another.

It can affect people of any age, although it is most common in teenagers and infants less than one year of age.

Symptoms begin with fever, aches, joint pain and headache. Within a few hours, children can become drowsy, semi-conscious, irritable or agitated and develop a red or purple skin rash. The disease progresses very quickly. Complications include low blood pressure (shock), seizures, loss of hearing, amputations, brain damage or death.

If you have any symptoms, see your healthcare provider right away.

For more information about routine vaccinations or the meningococcal vaccines, speak to your healthcare provider or call Toronto Public Health’s Health Connections: 416-338-7600.

Vaccines can protect against specific types of meningococcal bacteria. The vaccines cannot cause meningococcal disease because it contains no live bacteria.

There are several types of meningococcal vaccines available in Canada. Meningococcal vaccines are highly effective but effectiveness decreases over time. Meningococcal conjugate C (Men-C-C) vaccine protects against serogroup C disease. It is 97% effective in infants within one year of vaccination and decreases to 68% after 1 year.

Keeping up to date with routine vaccinations is the best protection against meningococcal disease.

Men-C-C vaccine is routinely given to healthy infants at one year of age and is recommended in unimmunized children less than 5 years of age. For children 5 to 11 years who were previously unimmunized, one dose of Men-C-C vaccine may be considered. Proof of meningococcal vaccination is required for child care and school attendance. Eligible students, including those in grade 7, who live or study in Toronto may receive publicly funded meningococcal vaccine

Currently, Toronto Public Health recommends people 20 to 36 years of age who have not received a dose of meningococcal vaccine should contact their health care provider to book an appointment to receive this publicly funded vaccine. The vaccine should also be given to the following:

  • Individuals with a weakened immune system
  • Persons without a functioning spleen
  • Persons who were in close contact with someone with serogroup C meningitis

You should not get the vaccine if:

  • you have had a severe allergy or neurological reaction to a previous dose of a meningococcal vaccine. Signs of severe allergy include hives, swelling of the mouth and throat, wheezing, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, hypotension and shock.
  • you have had an allergic reaction to any part of the vaccines including:
  • Menjugate®: aluminum hydroxide, diphtheria CRM toxoid carrier protein, mannitol, latex (in tip cap of syringe; no latex in vial format)
  • Neis Vac-C®: aluminum hydroxide, tetanus toxoid protein

When to Delay Vaccination

  • You have an acute febrile illness more serious than a cold
  • You have an unstable neurologic disorder

The vaccine is safe and effective. There may be redness, swelling and soreness where the needle was given. Infants may be cranky after the vaccine. Some people may have a fever, headache or feel unwell. More serious side effects like throat swelling and breathing problems are rarely seen. There are no long-term side effects associated with this vaccine.

You should report any side effects or severe vaccine reactions to your health care provider.