Use of Vaccines to Prevent Meningitis in Persons with Cochlear Implants

What You Should Know

  • People with cochlear implants are more likely to get bacterial meningitis than people without cochlear implants. In addition, some people who are candidates for cochlear implants have anatomic factors that may increase their risk for meningitis. These factors include facial and cranial abnormalities, including of the temporal bone and cochlea.
  • The bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) causes most cases of meningitis in people with cochlear implants.
  • Due to their increased risk, CDC recommends pneumococcal vaccination for people who have or are candidates for cochlear implants. Clinicians should follow the pneumococcal vaccine recommendations that apply to other groups at increased risk.
  • Recommendations for the timing and type of pneumococcal vaccination vary with age and vaccination history. See Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendations highlighted in the box to the right for details.

Pneumococcal Vaccine Recommendations by Age and Vaccination History

CDC recommends a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13 for children and PCV15 or PCV20 for adults) for people who have or are candidates for cochlear implants. CDC also recommends pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) for some people 2 years and older who have or are candidates for cochlear implants. Specifically, PPSV23 is recommended for children once all recommended doses of PCV13 have been administered and for adults who received PCV15.

See Pneumococcal Vaccination: Summary of Who and When to Vaccinate for more detail. Download the PneumoRecs VaxAdvisor Mobile App for Vaccine Providers for help determining which pneumococcal vaccines a patient needs and when.

Other Vaccines Can Help Protect against Meningitis

There is no evidence people with cochlear implants are more likely to get Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) meningitis or meningococcal meningitis than people who do not have cochlear implants. However, Hib and meningococcal vaccines are routinely recommended based on age and other risk factors.

  • The following Hib and meningococcal vaccines are available in the United States:
    •  Hib conjugate (ActHIB®, Hiberix®, PedvaxHIB®, Pentacel®, Vaxelis®)
    • Meningococcal conjugate (Menactra® and Menveo®)
    • Serogroup B meningococcal (Bexsero® and Trumenba®)
  • See Vaccine-specific ACIP Recommendations for information about how, when, and which pneumococcal, Hib, and meningococcal vaccines can be given together.

For More Information

Page last reviewed: January 27, 2022