Meningococcal Vaccination for Preteens and Teens: Questions and Answers
Information for Parents of Teenagers
Meningococcal vaccination is recommended for all preteens and teens. All 11 to 12 year olds should be vaccinated with a single dose of a quadrivalent (protects against serogroups A, C, W, and Y) meningococcal conjugate vaccine. Since protection decreases over time, a booster dose is recommended at age 16 so teens continue to have protection during the ages when they are at highest risk of meningococcal disease. Teens and young adults (16 through 23 year olds) may also be vaccinated with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine (2 or 3 doses depending on brand), preferably at 16 through 18 years old. Talk with your teen’s clinician about meningococcal vaccination to help protect your child’s health.
Q: Why does my preteen or teen need to be vaccinated against meningococcal disease?
A: Meningococcal disease can be devastating and often—and unexpectedly—strikes otherwise healthy people. Although meningococcal disease is uncommon, teens and young adults 16 through 23 years old are at increased risk. Meningococcal bacteria can cause severe disease, including infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream infections (bacteremia or septicemia), and can result in permanent disabilities and even death.
Q: Is there one meningococcal vaccine that can help protect my child from all common serogroups (strains) of meningococcal disease?
A: No. Some meningococcal vaccines for preteens and teens are designed to protect against four serogroups (A, C, W, and Y), while others help protect against one serogroup (B). There currently is not a meningococcal vaccine that offers protection against all common serogroups in one shot.
Q: Can my child receive a quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine and a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine at the same time?
A: Yes. Quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate and serogroup B meningococcal vaccines can be given during the same visit, but preferably in different arms. A serogroup B meningococcal vaccine is not recommended until age 16 years, so it’s possible your child will get this vaccine and the booster dose of a quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine at the same visit.
Q: Why is a booster shot of a quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine recommended for my teen?
A: Protection from a single dose of quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccination declines in most teens within 5 years. So, a second dose is needed at age 16 to boost teens’ protection during the ages when they are at highest risk of meningococcal disease.
Q: Does my child need another dose of a quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine if they are about to start college?
A: Many colleges require proof of quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccination within 5 years before starting school. Even if it isn’t a requirement for your child’s school, CDC recommends all teens vaccinated before their 16th birthday get a booster dose for the best protection during the ages when they are at highest risk. Teens who receive their first dose of a quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine at or after age 16 do not need a booster dose.
Q: How soon after getting the first dose of a quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine can my child get the booster dose?
A: The minimum time needed between doses is 8 weeks. However, the second dose is recommended at age 16 so that teens have boosted protection during the ages when they are at highest risk.
Q: How safe are quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccines and what side effects are common?
A: These vaccines are very safe. Vaccine safety will continue to be monitored.
About half of the people who get a quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine have mild problems following vaccination, such as redness or pain where the shot was given or a mild fever. These reactions usually get better on their own within 1 to 2 days, but serious reactions are possible.
For more information, view the Meningococcal ACWY Vaccine Information Statement.
Q: Does it matter which brand of quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine my child receives?
A: No. There is no preference as to which brand (Menactra® or Menveo®) of a quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine your child receives. However, it is preferred that the same vaccine brand be used for both doses.
Q: When will serogroup B meningococcal vaccines be available and where can I find them?
A: Your child's doctor may already have this vaccine in their office. However, since these are new vaccines and new guidelines, it may take some time for doctors to start stocking serogroup B meningococcal vaccines. College health centers or pharmacies may have them available.
You can locate vaccine providers who carry serogroup B meningococcal vaccines by using the HealthMap Vaccine Finder.
Q: Why does CDC not routinely recommend a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine for teens and young adults?
If you're interested in having your child vaccinated with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine, talk to your child’s clinician.
A: Serogroup B meningococcal disease is relatively rare. Outbreaks have recently occurred at several U.S. colleges. In response to the urgent need to control outbreaks of serogroup B meningococcal disease, serogroup B meningococcal vaccines were licensed by the Food and Drug Administration through an accelerated process. This means that a lot of data that officials typically have when making vaccine recommendations are not available right now for these vaccines. Available data suggest these vaccines are safe and CDC wants people to have access to them now to help prevent this uncommon, but serious illness. The current recommendation provides access and allows clinicians and parents to weigh the risk of the disease and the risks and benefits of vaccination. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and CDC will continue to review data.
Q: Are serogroup B meningococcal vaccines safe and what side effects are common?
A: Available data suggest that serogroup B meningococcal vaccines are safe. Safety will continue to be monitored.
More than half of the people who get a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine have mild problems following vaccination:
- Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
- Tiredness (fatigue)
- Muscle or joint pain
- Fever or chills
- Nausea or diarrhea
These reactions usually get better on their own within 3 to 7 days, but serious reactions are possible.
Serogroup B meningococcal vaccines are more likely to produce common or expected short-term side effects (especially pain where the shot was given) than other adolescent vaccines (i.e., HPV, quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate, and Tdap vaccine).
For more information, view the Serogroup B Meningococcal Vaccine Information Statement.
Q: Will insurance pay for serogroup B meningococcal vaccination for my child?
A: Most health plans must cover a set of preventive services, including vaccines recommended on the CDC immunization schedules, with no out-of-pocket costs when provided by an in-network healthcare provider. Health plans are required to cover new vaccine recommendations without cost-sharing in the next plan year that occurs one year after the effective date of the recommendation, which is the date of publication in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).
On October 23, 2015, a new recommendation was published in the MMWR for serogroup B meningococcal vaccination of 16 through 23 year olds. The recommendation to administer serogroup B meningococcal vaccine to people 10 years or older identified as being at increased risk due to a medical condition or a serogroup B meningococcal disease outbreak was published in the MMWR on June 12, 2015.
Patients should check with their insurance provider for details on whether there is any cost to them for this vaccine.
The Vaccines for Children, or VFC, program provides vaccines for children 18 and younger who are not insured, Medicaid-eligible, or American Indian or Alaska Native. Parents can find a VFC provider by contacting their local health department. VFC will cover the cost of serogroup B meningococcal vaccination for those
- 16 through 18 years old
- 10 through 18 years old identified as being at increased risk due to a medical condition or a serogroup B meningococcal disease outbreak
Q: Does it matter which brand of a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine my child receives?
A: No. CDC has no preference as to which brand (Bexsero® or Trumenba®) of a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine your child receives. Multiple (2 or 3) doses are needed regardless of the brand chosen, and the same vaccine brand must be used for all doses.
Q: Does my child need to finish the serogroup B meningococcal vaccine series?
A: Yes. Both serogroup B meningococcal vaccines require more than one dose for maximum protection.
- Page last reviewed: October 22, 2015
- Page last updated: October 22, 2015
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