Meningococcal Vaccination for Preteens and Teens: Information for Parents

CDC recommends meningococcal vaccination for all preteens and teens. All 11 to 12 year olds should receive a single dose of a meningococcal conjugate (MenACWY) vaccine. Since protection decreases over time, CDC recommends a booster dose at age 16 years. The booster dose provides protection during the ages when teens are at highest risk of meningococcal disease. Teens and young adults (16 through 23 year olds) also may receive a serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) vaccine. The preferred age to get MenB vaccine is 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, even deadly, infections like

  • Meningitis (an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord)
  • Bacteremia or septicemia (bloodstream infections)

About 1 in 5 people who survive their meningococcal infection have permanent disabilities.

There are 2 types of meningococcal vaccines available in the United States. Each type helps protect your child against different serogroups (strains) 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 against these 5 serogroups in 1 shot.

Your child can get MenACWY and MenB vaccine at the same time.

Your child’s clinician 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 MenB vaccine, the preferred timing is between 16 and 18 years old. So it’s possible your child will get this vaccine and the MenACWY booster dose at the same visit.

MenACWY Vaccines

A MenACWY booster shot helps protect your teen during the ages they are at highest risk of meningococcal disease.

Protection from a single dose of MenACWY vaccine declines in most teens within 5 years. Teens need a booster dose at age 16 years to provide protection during the ages when they are at highest risk.

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

Regardless of school requirements, CDC recommends a booster dose for all teens who received the first dose before their 16th birthday. The booster dose provides the best protection during the ages when teens are at highest risk. Teens who receive their first MenACWY vaccine dose at or after age 16 years do not need a booster dose.

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

About half of the people who get a MenACWY vaccine have mild problems following vaccination, such as:

  • Redness where the shot was given
  • Pain where the shot was given
  • 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 MenACWY vaccines. For more information, view the Meningococcal ACWY Vaccine Information Statement.

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

CDC has no preference as to which brand (Menactra® or Menveo®) of a MenACWY vaccine your child receives.

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MenB Vaccines

There are many ways to find a MenB vaccine provider near you.

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 MenB vaccine, talk to your child’s clinician.

CDC does not routinely recommend a MenB 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 occurred at several U.S. colleges during the past decade. CDC’s current recommendation gives people access to MenB vaccines to help prevent this uncommon, but serious illness. However, clinicians and parents should discuss the risk of the disease and weigh the risks and benefits of vaccination. Available data suggest these vaccines are safe and provide protection, but that protection decreases fairly quickly after vaccination.

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

Available data suggest that MenB vaccines are safe. More than half of the people who get a MenB 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 5 days, but serious reactions are possible.

Teens are more likely to have side effects after MenB vaccination compared to other vaccines given to preteens and teens. Those other vaccines include HPV, MenACWY, and Tdap vaccines.

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

Most health insurance plans pay for MenB vaccination for teens and young adults.

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

It does not matter which brand of a MenB vaccine your child receives.

CDC has no preference as to which brand (Bexsero® or Trumenba®) of MenB vaccine your child receives. Both brands require multiple doses. People must get the same vaccine brand for all doses.

Your child needs multiple doses of MenB vaccine.

Both MenB vaccines require more than 1 dose for maximum protection.

Page last reviewed: July 26, 2019