Guillain-Barré Syndrome and Menactra Meningococcal Vaccine FAQs
- Does Menactra Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine cause Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS)?
- What is GBS?
- What causes GBS?
- Have other vaccines ever been suspected of causing GBS?
Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY-D; Menactra) was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2005 and became available for public use. Shortly after, case reports of Guillain-Barré after Menactra vaccination were reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). In studies evaluating the possible relationship between Menactra and GBS, the risk of GBS after Menactra, if any, was small.
No. Two large studiesexternal icon 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.
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.
Many things can cause GBS, including common infections such as sore throats and other infections that occur in the community.
In 1976, flu vaccine was associated with a rare risk of GBS. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) conducted a thorough scientific reviewexternal icon 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.
More information is available on CDC’s Meningococcal Vaccination webpage.
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 icon or by phone at 1-800-822-7967.
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 icon. 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 icon. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2012 Dec;21(12):1359-60.