Meningococcal Vaccination for Preteens and Teens: Information for Parents

One of the Recommended Vaccines

Meningococcal vaccination is recommended for all preteens and teens. All 11 to 12 year olds should be vaccinated with a single dose of a 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, preferably at 16 through 18 years old. Talk with your teen’s clinician about meningococcal vaccination to help protect your child’s health.

Meningococcal Vaccines

Preteens and teens are at increased risk for meningococcal disease, an uncommon but serious illness.

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.

There are two types of meningococcal vaccines available in the United States. Each type helps protect your child against different serogroups (strains) of meningococcal disease.

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.

Your child can get a meningococcal conjugate and serogroup B vaccine at the same time.

Your child’s healthcare professional can give both types of meningococcal vaccines during the same visit, but preferably in different arms. If you choose for your child to get a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine, CDC recommends it be given between 16 and 18 years old. So it’s possible your child will get this vaccine and the booster dose of a meningococcal conjugate vaccine at the same visit.

Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccines

A booster shot of a meningococcal conjugate vaccine helps protect your teen during the ages they are at highest risk.

Protection from a single dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccination declines in most teens within 5 years. So, teens need a second dose at age 16 to boost their protection during the ages when they are at highest risk of meningococcal disease.

Many colleges require proof of 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 meningococcal conjugate vaccine at or after age 16 do not need a booster dose.

The minimum time needed between doses of meningococcal conjugate vaccine 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.

Meningococcal conjugate vaccines are safe. However, as with any vaccine, side effects can occur.

About half of the people who get a 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.

CDC continually monitors the safety of all vaccines, including meningococcal conjugate vaccines. For more information, view the Meningococcal ACWY Vaccine Information Statement.

It does not matter which brand of meningococcal conjugate vaccine your child receives.

CDC has no preference as to which brand (Menactra® or Menveo®) of a meningococcal conjugate vaccine your child receives. However, CDC prefers that the same vaccine brand be used for both doses, if possible.

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Serogroup B Meningococcal Vaccines

There are multiple ways you can find a vaccine provider who carries serogroup B meningococcal vaccines.

Your child’s doctor may already have these vaccines in their office. College health centers or pharmacies may also have them available. Use the HealthMap Vaccine Finder to find a vaccine provider near youexternal icon.

If you’re interested in having your child vaccinated with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine, talk to your child’s clinician.

CDC does not routinely recommend a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine for all teens and young adults. However, all teens may get vaccinated, preferably at 16 to 18 years old.

Serogroup B meningococcal disease is relatively rare. Outbreaks have recently occurred at several U.S. colleges. CDC wants people to have access to serogroup B meningococcal vaccines 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. Available data suggest these vaccines are safe and provide protection, but that protection decreases fairly quickly after vaccination.

Serogroup B meningococcal vaccines are safe. However, as with any vaccine, side effects can occur.

Available data suggest that serogroup B meningococcal vaccines are safe. 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)
  • Headache
  • 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, meningococcal conjugate, and Tdap vaccine).

CDC continually monitors the safety of all vaccines, including serogroup B meningococcal vaccines. For more information, view the Serogroup B Meningococcal Vaccine Information Statement.

Most health insurance plans pay for serogroup B meningococcal vaccination for teens and young adults.

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).

CDC published the following two recommendations about serogroup B meningococcal vaccination in 2015:

  • All people 10 years or older identified as being at increased risk of meningococcal disease should get vaccinated — publication date June 12, 2015
  • All teens may get vaccinated, preferably at 16 through 18 years old — publication date October 23, 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

It does not matter which brand of a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine your child receives.

CDC has no preference as to which brand (Bexsero® or Trumenba®) of a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine your child receives. Multiple doses are needed regardless of the brand chosen, and the same vaccine brand must be used for all doses.

Your child needs multiple doses of a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine.

Both serogroup B meningococcal vaccines require more than one dose for maximum protection.

Page last reviewed: May 19, 2017