Guillain-Barré Syndrome and Menactra Meningococcal Vaccine

In 1998, some research caused concern that hepatitis B vaccination might be linked with multiple sclerosis (MS), a progressive nerve disease. Numerous studies have evaluated a possible relationship between hepatitis B vaccination and MS. A large body of scientific evidence now shows that hepatitis B vaccination does not cause or worsen MS.


Does Menactra Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine cause Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS)?

No. Two large studiesExternal were conducted to investigate whether GBS was caused by the vaccine or was coincidental with vaccination. These studies included a combined total of over 2 million vaccinated adolescents.  The results of these studies showed that there was no link between Menactra and GBS.

  • A 2012 study used health records of over 9.6 million preteens and teens to evaluate a possible link between Menactra and GBS. The study found that youth who received Menactra were not at increased risk of developing GBS.
  • Another large 2012 study combined the above study with data from the Vaccine Safety Datalink to search for diagnoses of GBS in 11.2 million preteens and teens who received Menactra. This study also found no link between GBS and Menactra and observed 0 confirmed GBS cases.


What is GBS?

GBS is a rare disorder in which a person’s own immune system damages their nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis. It often follows infection with a virus or bacteria. Most people recover fully from GBS, but some people have permanent nerve damage. In the United States, an estimated 3,000 to 6,000 people develop GBS each year, whether or not they received a vaccination.


What causes GBS?

Many things can cause GBS, including common infections such as sore throats and other infections that occur in the community.


Have other vaccines ever been suspected of causing GBS?

In 1976, flu vaccine was associated with a rare risk of GBS. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) conducted a thorough scientific reviewExternal of this issue in 2003 and concluded that people who received the 1976 swine influenza vaccine had an increased risk for developing GBS. Scientists have multiple theories on why this increased risk may have occurred, but the exact reason for this association remains unknown.


Where can I get more information about meningococcal vaccine?

More information is available on CDC’s Meningococcal Vaccination webpage.


How can I report a case of GBS after Menactra or any vaccine?

Any possible vaccine side effect can be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) to help CDC and the Food and Drug Administration better understand vaccine safety. Anyone can report to VAERS online at vaers.hhs.govExternal or by phone at 1-800-822-7967.


Related Scientific Articles

CDC. Guillain-Barré Syndrome among recipients of Menactra meningococcal conjugate vaccine–United States, June-July 2005. MMWR. 2005 Oct 6:54(Dispatch);1-3.

DC. Update: Guillain-Barré Syndrome among recipients of Menactra meningococcal conjugate vaccine–United States, October 2005-February 2006. MMWR. 2006 Apr 7:(55(13);364-366.

CDC. Update: Guillain-Barré Syndrome among recipients of Menactra meningococcal conjugate vaccine–United States, June 2005-September 2006. MMWR. 2006 Oct 20:55(41);1120-1124.

Velentgas P, Amato AA, Bohn RL, Chan KA, Cochrane T, Funch DP, et al. Risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome after meningococcal conjugate vaccinationExternal. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2012 Dec;21(12):1350-8. Epub 2012 Jul 16.

Yih WK, Weintraub E, Kulldorff M. No risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome found after meningococcal conjugate vaccination in two large cohort studiesExternal. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2012 Dec;21(12):1359-60.

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