What is meningococcal disease?
Meningococcal disease is one of the most serious caused by bacteria and it is a life-threatening illness. It can infect the brain, spinal cord and blood,
The disease is spread person-to-person. It is easily spread in crowded settings. You can catch meningitis from a person who looks healthy.
Even with proper treatment, 10% to 15% of people with meningococcal disease die. Of the people who survive, as many as 20% suffer from some serious complication, such as loss of an arm or leg, brain damage, or permanent hearing loss. Meningitis can cause shock, coma, and death within hours of the first symptom.
The disease most often strikes older teens and young adults. If you travel internationally or have certain medical conditions, you may also be at risk.
Vaccination is the best way to prevent meningitis.
Who needs a meningococcal vaccine?
All children ages 11-18 or certain younger high-risk children
Anyone who has been exposed to meningitis during an outbreak
Anyone traveling to or living where meningitis is common, such as in sub-Saharan Africa
People with certain immune system disorders or a damaged or missing spleen
Who should not get a meningococcal vaccine?
Your preteen or teen shouldn't get the meningococcal vaccine if he or she:
Has had a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction to a meningococcal vaccine before or to any vaccine component
Is moderately or severely ill (reschedule when you are well)
Has ever had Guillain-Barre syndrome
Pregnant women can get the meningococcal vaccine, but it's only recommended for those with certain immune problems or those likely to be exposed to meningitis. If you are not sure it is right for you to get meningococcal vaccine, call your doctor.