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Meningococcal Vaccine

What is meningococcal infection?

Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial infection that can make the lining of the brain and spinal cord swell. This can cause brain damage, hearing loss, and learning problems. The meningococcal bacteria can also cause sepsis, which is an infection in the blood. This infection can lead to the loss of an arm, leg or other parts of the body. Even if they get treatment, about 1 in 10 people with meningococcal disease will die from it. This fatal disease is preventable by receiving doses of vaccine on schedule.

How can you get protected from meningococcal infection?

The meningococcal conjugate vaccine (also known as MCV4) protects against 4 types of meningococcal organisms. Teens are at higher risk of getting meningococcal disease because the bacteria are easily spread in settings where teens congregate. Teens should get their first MCV4 shot when they are 11 or 12 years old. Older teens may need a booster shot when they are 16 years old, so that they will stay protected throughout the teen years.

Is meningococcal vaccine safe?

Meningococcal vaccine has been studied very carefully, and it is safe and effective. Like many vaccines, meningococcal vaccine may cause mild side effects, like redness and soreness where the shot was administered (usually in the arm). Learn more about MCV4 safety from the CDC.