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Meningococcal: Who Needs to be Vaccinated?

There are two types of meningococcal vaccines available in the United States:

  • Meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (Menomune®)
  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (Mentactra®, Menveo® and MenHibrix®)


Who Needs to be Vaccinated?

Does my preteen or teen need it?

Yes, in adolescents, those ages 16 through 21 years have the highest rates of meningococcal disease. Even though the disease is not very common, we want to prevent as many adolescents as possible from getting it. Meningococcal bacteria can cause severe disease, including meningitis and sepsis, resulting in permanent disabilities and even death.

At what age does my preteen or teen need it?

All 11-12 years olds should be vaccinated with meningococcal conjugate vaccine (Menactra® or Menveo®). A booster dose should be given at age 16 years. For adolescents who receive the first dose at age 13 through 15 years, a one-time booster dose should be administered, preferably at age 16 through 18 years, before the peak in increased risk. Adolescents who receive their first dose of meningococcal vaccine at or after age 16 years do not need a booster dose.

Why is a booster shot being recommended now?

When meningococcal conjugate vaccine was first recommended for adolescents in 2005, the expectation was that protection would last for 10 years; however, currently available data suggest protection declines in most adolescents within 5 years. Based on that information, a single dose at the recommended age of 11 or 12 years may not offer protection through the adolescent years at which risk for meningococcal infection is highest (16 through 21 years of age). If we didn't recommend a booster dose, adolescents at highest risk would not be well protected.

What if my child is about to start college and got their first dose more than 5 years ago?

For the best protection, we recommend that your child receives a booster dose. Meningococcal vaccination is required to attend many colleges. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) suggests that your child receive the vaccine less than 5 years before starting school.

How soon after the first dose of vaccine can the booster dose be given?

Adolescents age 16 through 18 years can get the booster dose at any time. The minimum interval between doses is 8 weeks.

Are there safety concerns with getting a booster dose?

Available data suggests that the booster dose is very safe, but vaccine safety will continue to be monitored.

For additional details, consult the Meningococcal Vaccine Information Statement and the Adolescent Immunization Schedule.

As an adult, do I need it?

See also: Adult Immunization Schedule

You should get meningococcal vaccine if:

  • You are a first-year college student living in a residence hall
  • You are a military recruit
  • You have a damaged spleen or your spleen has been removed
  • You have terminal complement deficiency
  • You are a microbiologist who is routinely exposed to Neisseria meningitidis (the causal pathogen)
  • You are traveling or residing in countries in which the disease is common.

For additional details, consult the Meningococcal Vaccine Information Statement and the Adult Immunization Schedule.

Healthcare Personnel Vaccination Recommendations [1 page]

Does my infant or child need this vaccine?

Meningococcal conjugate vaccine is recommended for certain children at increased risk from ages 2 months through 10 years.

For additional details, consult the Meningococcal Vaccine Information Statement and the Childhood Immunization Schedule.

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