Updated January 2016

Vaccine Brands:  MenjugateTM, NeisVac-CTM

Invasive Meningococcal Disease (IMD)

Meningococcal infection is a very rare but serious disease. Most invasive meningococcal disease is associated with bacteria Neisseria meningitidisserogroups A, B, C, Y and W-135.  It can cause meningitis, an infection of the fluid/lining of the brain and spinal cord and septicemia, 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.

Early signs can be similar to those of flu and other viral infections, making it difficult to diagnose. 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 progress very quickly. Complications include low blood pressure (shock), seizures, loss of hearing, amputations, brain damage or death.

Vaccine Protection

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.

Recommendations for Use

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.

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

Vaccine Side Effects and Risks

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.

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

People Who Should Not Get the Vaccine

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

People for Whom the Vaccine May Be Delayed

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

More Information

  • Talk to your healthcare provider about free vaccines for high-risk individuals.
  • Call our Immunization Information Line at 416-392-1250