Certain groups of people are at increased risk for meningococcal disease. For some of these groups, there are vaccines that prevent two of the three major serogroups ("strains") of Neisseria meningitidis bacteria that cause most illness in the United States. Vaccination is the best thing these people can do to decrease their risk.
Some risk factors include:
- Meningococcal disease is more commonly diagnosed among infants, adolescents and young adults. A vaccine is available and recommended for all 11 through 18 year olds. A vaccine is also available for infants and children 9 months of age and older, but it is only routinely recommended for those with certain medical conditions. Learn more about certain age groups being at risk.
- Community setting
- Infectious diseases tend to spread quickly wherever large groups of people gather together. As a result, college students living in dormitories are at slightly increased risk compared with other persons of the same age. A vaccine is available and recommended for all college freshmen living in a dorm. However, any college student can receive the vaccine to decrease their chances of getting meningococcal disease. Persons entering the military will receive a meningococcal vaccine before basic training. Learn more about those in community settings being at risk.
- Certain medical conditions
- There are certain diseases, medications and surgical procedures that put people at increased risk of meningococcal disease, such as not having a spleen. A vaccine is available and recommended for those with these conditions. Learn more about those with certain medical conditions being at risk.
- Travelers to the meningitis belt in sub-Saharan Africa may be at risk for meningococcal disease, particularly during the dry season. Learn more about travelers at risk.
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