Meningococcal Vaccination for Adolescents: Information for Healthcare Professionals

CDC recommends meningococcal vaccination for all adolescents. Follow the recommended immunization schedule to ensure that your patients get the meningococcal vaccines that they need.

  • All 11 to 12 year olds should receive a single dose of meningococcal conjugate (MenACWY) vaccine.
  • Since protection wanes, CDC recommends a booster dose at age 16 years. The booster dose provides protection during the ages when adolescents are at highest risk of meningococcal disease.
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licensed serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) vaccines in 2014 and 2015.
  • Adolescents and young adults (16 through 23 years of age) may also receive a MenB vaccine. The preferred age at which to administer MenB vaccine is 16 through 18 years.
  • CDC recommends that certain adolescents and young adults should receive a MenB vaccine. They include those at increased risk because of a serogroup B meningococcal disease outbreak and people with certain medical conditions.

Meningococcal Vaccines

Meningococcal Vaccines

Meningococcal conjugate (MenACWY) vaccines

  • Menactra®
  • Menveo®

Serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) vaccines

  • Bexsero®
  • Trumenba®

Adolescents are at increased risk for meningococcal disease.

Anyone can get meningococcal disease. However, adolescents and young adults 16 through 23 years of age are at increased risk for meningococcal disease. In addition, college students have a slightly higher risk than other teens and young adults who are not attending college. Meningococcal bacteria can cause severe disease, including meningitis, bacteremia, and septicemia, resulting in permanent disabilities and even death.

There are 2 types of meningococcal vaccines available in the United States. Each type helps protect against different serogroups of meningococcal disease.

MenACWY vaccines provide protection against 4 serogroups: A, C, W, and Y. MenB vaccines provide protection against 1 serogroup: B. Currently no meningococcal vaccine offers protection in a single shot against these 5 serogroups that cause most meningococcal disease.

You can administer MenACWY and MenB vaccines at the same time. You can also administer them with other vaccines recommended for adolescents.

Clinicians may administer meningococcal and other vaccines during the same visit, but at different anatomic sites if feasible.

CDC recommends meningococcal vaccination for people identified as being at increased risk during outbreaks.

CDC supports state and local health departments in investigating outbreaks and implementing outbreak control measures. During a serogroup A, C, W, or Y meningococcal disease outbreak, CDC recommends MenACWY vaccination for people at increased risk because of the outbreak. During a serogroup B meningococcal disease outbreak, CDC recommends MenB vaccination for people at increased risk because of the outbreak.

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MenACWY Vaccines

Report Adverse Events

Adverse events occurring after administration of any vaccine should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Reports can be submitted to VAERS online, by fax, or by mail. Additional information about VAERS is available by telephone (1-800-822-7967) or on the VAERS websiteexternal icon.

A MenACWY booster dose helps protect adolescents during the ages they are at highest risk.

Protection from MenACWY vaccination wanes in most adolescents within 5 years. Based on that information, adolescents need a booster dose at age 16 years. The booster dose provides protection during the years when they are at highest risk of meningococcal disease.

MenACWY vaccines are safe.

CDC continually monitors the safety of all vaccines. For information about side effects, see the MenACWY Vaccine Information Statement.

Many colleges require proof of MenACWY vaccination within 5 years before starting school.

CDC recommends that students receive a MenACWY vaccine within 5 years prior to starting college. This vaccination is required to attend many colleges.

The minimum booster dose interval is 8 weeks for MenACWY vaccines.

The minimum interval between doses is 8 weeks. However, healthy adolescents do not need a booster if the initial dose is given at or after age 16 years.

People with certain medical conditions need a 2-dose primary series of MenACWY vaccine and routine booster doses.

Vaccinate people with the following medical conditions with a 2-dose primary series of MenACWY vaccine administered 8 weeks apart:

  • Complement component deficiency (e.g., C5-C9, properdin, factor H, factor D, or are taking a complement inhibitor such as Soliris® or Ultomiris®)
  • Functional or anatomic asplenia (including sickle cell anemia)
  • HIV

Administer routine booster doses every 5 years throughout life to people with these medical conditions. Booster doses will help these patients maintain protection against meningococcal disease.

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MenB Vaccines

CDC does not routinely recommend MenB vaccination for all adolescents.

Clinicians may choose to administer a MenB vaccine to patients 16 through 23 years of age. The preferred age at which to administer the vaccine is 16 through 18 years old.

Together, clinicians and patients or their parents can determine if MenB vaccination is appropriate for them. Clinicians, parents, teens, and young adults may want to consider the following when making this decision:

  • Meningococcal disease is an uncommon but deadly disease. Up to 1 in 5 people who survive their meningococcal infection have lifelong health problems. These complications include loss of limbs, deafness, nervous system problems, or brain damage.
  • MenB vaccines provide protection against most, but not all serogroup B strains circulating in the United States. However, studies suggest MenB vaccines offer only short-term protection. Available data suggest that protective antibodies decrease quickly (within 1 to 2 years) after MenB vaccination.
  • College students have a slightly higher risk of meningococcal disease than their peers who are not attending college. College campuses have reported outbreaks of serogroup B meningococcal disease during the last several years. Some colleges now require MenB vaccination.
  • Several clinical trials and studies during outbreaks have shown that MenB vaccines are safe.
  • MenB vaccines only provide protection to the people who receive the vaccine. MenB vaccines do not provide protection to unvaccinated people through herd immunity.

Administer MenB vaccines at 16 through 18 years of age to maximize protection when adolescents are at highest risk.

CDC recommends clinicians who choose to administer the MenB vaccine series give it in later adolescence. The preferred age at which to administer MenB vaccine is between 16 to 18 years. This timing maximizes the likelihood that vaccinated adolescents will have protection during the ages when they are at highest risk. Clinicians hopefully will see college-bound adolescents during a pre-college visit. If so, this visit provides an opportunity to initiate the MenB vaccine series for those who choose to receive it.

MenB vaccines are safe.

Available data suggest that MenB vaccines are safe. Side effects like pain at the injection site, fever, and headache are common. These side effects usually resolve on their own within 3 to 5 days after vaccination. MenB vaccines are more reactogenic than other adolescent vaccines (i.e., HPV, meningococcal conjugate, and Tdap vaccine). They are likely to produce common or expected short-term side effects (especially pain at the injection site). There have been no unusual patterns of serious reactions associated with these vaccines.

There is also a theoretical concern for autoimmune disorders following MenB vaccination. Both MenB vaccines contain components that include factor H binding protein. In 2 animal models, antibodies measured after Bexsero® vaccination have been noted to be cross reactive with human factor H. However, it is not known if auto-antibodies to factor H develop in humans after vaccination with either MenB vaccine. It is also not known if auto-antibodies generated post-vaccination are of clinical significance. Safety data were available from 6 Bexsero® clinical trials and 7 Trumenba® clinical trials. In total, these clinical trials included approximately 3,100 and 4,500 vaccine recipients. For most participants who reported an autoimmune condition, symptom onset consistent with the diagnosis existed prior to the first vaccination. Theoretically, onset of autoimmune disease related symptoms could begin well beyond vaccination. Post-licensure safety surveillance will be important to detect any potential safety signals.

Before administering a MenB vaccine, providers should consult the package insert (Bexsero®external icon or Trumenba®external icon) for precautions, warnings, and contraindications. For a summary of contraindications and precautions, see the MenB Vaccine Information Statement.

MenB vaccines require multiple doses.

Both MenB vaccine products require more than 1 dose for maximum protection. Adolescents must receive the same vaccine product for all doses.

  • Bexsero:® Administer 2 doses. Administer the second dose at least 1 month after first dose.
  • Trumenba:® Administer 2 or 3 doses.
    • Administer 2 doses to healthy adolescents who are not at increased risk for serogroup B meningococcal disease. Administer the second dose 6 months after the first dose.
    • Administer 3 doses to adolescents who are at increased risk for meningococcal disease. This includes during outbreaks of serogroup B meningococcal disease. Administer the second dose 1 to 2 months after the first dose. Administer the third dose 6 months after the first dose.

It does not matter which MenB vaccine you use.

CDC has no preference as to which MenB vaccine you use. Adolescents must receive the same vaccine product for all doses. If a patient receives different products for any of the doses, proceed with the next scheduled dose of the selected product with a minimum of 1 month since the last dose of either product.

Most health insurance plans cover the cost for MenB vaccination.

Most health plans must cover CDC-recommended vaccines with no out-of-pocket costs if an in-network healthcare provider administers the vaccine. 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
  • American Indian or Alaska Native

Parents can find a VFC provider by contacting their local health department. VFC will cover the cost of MenB vaccination for those

  • 16 through 18 years of age
  • 10 through 18 years of age identified as being at increased risk due to a medical condition
  • 10 through 18 years of age identified as being at increased risk due to a serogroup B meningococcal disease outbreak

You can refer patients to multiple places for MenB vaccination if you do not stock the vaccine.

College health centers or pharmacies may have MenB vaccines available. Patients can also locate vaccine providers who carry MenB vaccine by using the HealthMap Vaccine Finderexternal icon.

Get more information, for yourself and your patients, about MenB vaccination.

The following resources offer additional information for clinicians and parents about MenB vaccination:

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Page last reviewed: July 26, 2019