Keeping up to date with recommended vaccines is the best defense against meningococcal disease. Maintaining healthy habits, like getting plenty of rest and not having close contact with people who are sick, also helps.
Vaccines help protect against all three serogroups (B, C, and Y) of Neisseria meningitidis bacteria most commonly seen in the United States. Like with any vaccine, meningococcal vaccines are not 100% effective. This means there is still a chance you can develop meningococcal disease after vaccination. People should know the symptoms of meningococcal disease since early recognition and quick medical attention are extremely important.
Close contacts of a person with meningococcal disease should receive antibiotics to prevent them from getting sick. Experts call this prophylaxis (pro-fuh-lak-sis). Examples of close contacts include:
- People in the same household
- Anyone with direct contact with a patient’s oral secretions (saliva or spit), such as a boyfriend or girlfriend
Doctors or local health departments recommend who should get prophylaxis.
If you get meningococcal disease twice, your doctor should check to see if you have an underlying immune deficiency.
Although rare, people can get meningococcal disease more than once. A previous infection will not offer lifelong protection from future infections. Therefore, CDC recommends meningococcal vaccines for all preteens and teens. In certain situations, children and adults should also get meningococcal vaccines.