As part of Toronto Public Health’s continued response to an outbreak of meningococcal disease (type C), adults 20 to 36 years of age, and children, should check their vaccine record to confirm they have received a dose of meningococcal vaccine. If not, contact a health care provider.

Men C: Menjugate™, NeisVac-C™

Men ACYW-135: Menactra®, Menveo™, Nimenrix®

Meningococcal Disease

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 carry this bacteria in their throat or nose without getting sick. In rare cases, this bacteria can cause serious disease and may 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.

There are two meningococcal vaccines routinely given as part of Ontario’s Publicly Funded Immunization Schedule – Men C (MenjugateTM, NeisVac-CTM) protects against the C strain, and Men ACYW-135 (Menactra®, Menveo™, Nimenrix®) protects against four strains of the bacteria: A, C, Y, and W-135.

Children routinely get a meningococcal C vaccine at one year of age. The vaccine is 97% effective in infants within one year of vaccination.

The meningococcal ACYW-135 (quadrivalent) vaccine is given to students in grade 7 and is 80 to 85% effective.

The effectiveness of both vaccines decreases over time, and so people who are identified as close contacts of someone with the disease may be recommended to get another dose.

Both the Men C and Men ACYW-135 vaccines are recommended as part of Ontario’s Publicly Funded Immunization Schedule.

The Men C vaccine is typically given free to healthy infants at one year of age.

Students 12 years of age and older are eligible to receive Men ACYW-135 for free when they enter grade 7 though the school immunization program. The vaccine is also offered at Toronto Public Health clinics to students in grades 7 to 12 who did not get it in school. Some individuals with health conditions may also be eligible for this publicly funded vaccine.

Anyone born on or after September 1, 2003, who has never received a Meningococcal vaccine is eligible and recommended to get vaccinated. If you were immunized with Men ACYW-135 in or after grade 7, you are up-to-date.

Meningococcal vaccines should also be given to:

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

You can speak to a healthcare provider about the right vaccine for you or your child.

Proof of meningococcal vaccination or a valid exemption is required for child care and school attendance. To avoid school suspension please report your child’s immunization every time they receive a vaccine or booster to Immunization Connect.

The meningococcal vaccine may also be needed for career or travel purposes and can be purchased. The price for one-dose of the ACYW vaccine is approximately $160. Talk to your health care provider or check with your private health insurance if you are not eligible for the free vaccine.

When to Delay Vaccination

  • If you have a fever, delay getting the vaccine until you are feeling better
  • Talk to your health care provider if you have a bleeding or neurological disorder

People Who Should Not Get the Vaccine

You should not get the Men C 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.
  • 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

You should not get the Men ACYW-135 vaccine if you:

  • Have a serious reaction to diphtheria or tetanus toxoid (found in some vaccines)

These vaccines are safe and effective. 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 these vaccines.