Meningitis (Meningococcal Disease) Vaccine

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Warner Plaza Urgent Care offers a wide range of vaccinations, including the meningitis (meningococcal disease) vaccines.

What Is Meningitis?

Meningitis is an infection of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. It’s a serious infection with an average mortality rate of about 10 to 15 percent. In addition to the death, meningitis can also cause permanent health damage such as brain damage, deafness, and amputation.

There are three kinds of meningitis: bacterial, viral, and fungal. Bacterial infections tend to be more severe, while viral infections are still serious but often less severe. Fungal infections are the most rare cause of meningitis but are very severe.

Bacterial meningitis is the type of meningitis that can be prevented with vaccination. This kind of meningitis is caused by infection by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis and is also known as meningococcal disease.

Meningococcal disease is spread by close contact with an infected person and can be spread through coughing. Early symptoms of meningococcal disease can include stiff neck, fever, purple-spotted rash, headache, nausea, vomiting, and eye sensitivity to light.

What Is the Meningitis Vaccine?

The meningococcal vaccine is an important vaccine that has been proven to prevent meningococcal disease in around 90 percent of vaccinated persons. 

According to the CDC’s meningococcal Vaccine Information Statement, there are at least 12 types of Neisseria meningitis, which are called serogroups. There are five different serogroups that commonly cause meningococcal disease, serogroups A, B, C, W, and W.

Due to the fact that there are multiple strains of meningococcal bacteria, there are multiple meningococcal vaccines. There are both meningococcal vaccines that protect against a single serogroup and conjugate meningococcal vaccines that protect against multiple serogroups. The CDC recommends a vaccination strategy that protects against all common strains of meningococcal bacteria. This is done by receiving one meningococcal vaccination that protects against serotype B and another meningococcal conjugate vaccination that protects against serogroups A, C, W, and Y.

There are four different meningococcal disease vaccines available in the United States. Two of these protect against serotype B bacteria and two of these are conjugate vaccines that protect against serogroups A, C, W, and Y.

The two different types of serotype B vaccinations (Menb vaccines) are called Trumenba and Bexsero. Trumenba (also called Menb-FHpb) requires three injections on a specific schedule. After the first dose of Trumenba, the second should be given 1-2 months later and the third should be given six months after the first does. Bexsero (also called MenB-4C) is administered in a serious of two injections. After the first dose of Bexsero, the second dose should be administered 6 months later. Both Trumenba and Bexsero are thought to be equally effective against serotype B strains of N. meningitis among individuals aged 10 to 25. Both of these serotype B vaccinations are new vaccines. Because of this, it’s currently unknown whether or not they also protect against serotype B among people older than 25.

The two different types of meningococcal vaccines are Menveo and Menactra. Menveo (also known as MCV4) is an injectable meningococcal conjugate vaccine that is approved for use among people aged 2 months to 55 years. For people aged 2 to 55, Menveo is administered through a single dose. For children who initiate vaccination at age 2 months, Menveo is given in a series of four doses (at ages 2, 4, 6, and 12 months). For children who initiate vaccination between 7 and 23 months of age, Menveo is administered in a series of two doses (the second dose is administered in the second year of life and at least 3 months after the first dose).

Menactra (which like Menveo is also known as MCV4) is an injectable meningococcal conjugate vaccine that is approved for people 9 months old to 55 years old. In children aged 9 to 23 months, Menactra is given in two doses three months apart. In people aged 2 to 55 years, Menactra is administered as one dose, with the option of a booster shot during age 15 to 55 for those at continued risk (at least 4 years after the first dose).

Menactra and Menveo are both new vaccines. Because of this, the length of time they are effective is currently unknown.

Previously, there was a meningococcal vaccine available that was approved for people over the age of 55. This was a polysaccharide vaccine called Menomune (also known as MCSV4). This vaccine was available in the United States from 1981 to 2017. However, in 2017 this vaccine was discontinued and is no longer available.

Due to the fact that all four meningococcal vaccines have varying dose schedules, including dose schedules that vary by age and dose schedules that vary due to a patient’s health conditions, it’s important to talk to your doctor about which vaccine and which vaccination schedule would be best for your health.

Who Should Get the Meningitis (Meningococcal Disease) Vaccine?

The CDC recommends that all people over 11 years old be vaccinated for all five common strains of N. meningitis to protect their health. Their vaccination recommendation includes getting both a vaccination that protects against serotype B and a conjugate vaccination that protects against serotypes A, C, W, and Y.

Meningococcal disease vaccination is especially highly recommended for those who are at a high risk of meningococcal bacteria exposure. In the United States, one of the highest risk groups for meningococcal bacteria exposure is college students. In addition to college students, other groups at a high risk for exposure include other students, healthcare workers, individuals who work in confined conditions, infants younger than one year old, people with certain health conditions that affect the immune system, people who work with N. meningitis isolates, people experiencing an outbreak in their community, and travelers going to high meningitis risk areas.

People who should not get the meningitis vaccine include anyone who has had a life-threatening allergic reaction to the vaccine or any of its components. People who are currently moderately to severely ill should usually wait until their health recovers before getting the vaccine. Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers are not usually recommended the meningococcal vaccine. Women who are currently pregnant or breastfeeding should talk to their doctors about what’s best for their health before receiving the vaccine.

Additionally, due to the discontinuation of the meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine in 2017 (Menomune /MCSV4) there is currently no meningitis vaccine approved for people over the age of 55.

For more information about who should and should not get the meningococcal vaccines, you can read the CDC’s Meningococcal Vaccine Information Statement.

Where Does Meningitis Occur?

Meningitis can occur in any location but some have higher risks of infection. The “meningitis belt,” which runs across sub-Saharan Africa, is the most high risk area for meningitis. The belt includes Gambia, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Eritrea.

Other areas with higher risks of outbreaks include parts of Sub-Saharan Africa not in the meningitis belt, such as Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Saudi Arabia has also seen outbreaks during the time of the Hajj Pilgrimage and requires proof of vaccination during this time to enter the country.

Warner Plaza Urgent Care offers both meningitis (meningococcal disease) vaccines. To get vaccinated, call to make an appointment, make an appointment online, or come in for a walk-in appointment.

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