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Meningococcal Vaccine (cont.)

Meningococcal Vaccine

There are two kinds of meningococcal vaccine in the U.S.:

  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4) was licensed in 2005. It is the preferred vaccine for people 2 through 55 years of age.
  • Meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (MPSV4) has been available since the 1970s. It may be used if MCV4 is not available, and is the only meningococcal vaccine licensed for people older than 55.

Both vaccines can prevent 4 types of meningococcal disease, including 2 of the 3 types most common in the United States and a type that causes epidemics in Africa. Meningococcal vaccines cannot prevent all types of the disease. But they do protect many people who might become sick if they didn't get the vaccine.

Both vaccines work well, and protect about 90% of people who get them. MCV4 is expected to give better longer-lasting protection.

MCV4 should also be better at preventing the disease from spreading from person to person.

Who Should Get the Meningococcal Vaccine and When?

Meningococcal vaccine is also recommended for other people at increased risk for meningococcal disease:

  • College freshmen living in dormitories.
  • Microbiologists who are routinely exposed to meningococcal bacteria.
  • U.S. military recruits.
  • Anyone traveling to, or living in, a part of the world where meningococcal disease is common, such as parts of Africa.
  • Anyone who has a damaged spleen, or whose spleen has been removed.
  • People who might have been exposed to meningitis during an outbreak.
  • MCV4 is the preferred vaccine for people 2 through 55 years of age in these risk groups. MPSV4 can be used if MCV4 is not available and for adults over 55.

How Many Doses?

People 2 years of age and older should get 1 dose. Sometimes a second dose is recommended for people who remain at high risk. Ask your provider.

MPSV4 may be recommended for children 3 months to 2 years of age under special circumstances. These children should get 2 doses, 3 months apart.



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