Alert

meningococcal conjugate vaccine

Pronunciation: me NIN je KOK al KON je gate vax EEN

Brand: Menactra, Menveo

What is the most important information I should know about this vaccine?

You should not receive this vaccine if you have ever had an allergic reaction to a meningococcal or diphtheria vaccine.

What is meningococcal conjugate vaccine?

Meningococcal disease is a serious infection caused by a bacteria. Meningococcal bacteria can infect the spinal cord and brain, causing meningitis that can be fatal. Meningococcal disease can also lead to permanent and disabling medical problems.

Meningococcal disease can spread from one person to another through small droplets of saliva that are expelled into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The bacteria can also be passed through contact with objects the infected person has touched, such as a door handle or other surface. The bacteria can also be passed through kissing, or sharing a drinking glass or eating utensil with an infected person.

Meningococcal disease is more likely to occur in babies younger than 1 year, in young people ages 16 to 23 years, in anyone with a weak immune system, and in anyone exposed to an outbreak of the disease.

Meningococcal conjugate vaccine is used to prevent infection caused by meningococcal bacteria. The vaccine works by exposing you to a small dose of the bacteria or a protein from the bacteria, which causes your body to develop immunity to the disease. Meningococcal conjugate vaccine contains four of the most common types of meningococcal bacteria (serogroups A, C, Y, and W-135).

This vaccine will not treat an active meningococcal infection that has already developed in the body.

The Menactra brand of this vaccine is for use in children and adults between the ages of 9 months and 55 years old. Menveo is for children and adults between the ages of 2 months and 55 years old.

Like any vaccine, meningococcal conjugate vaccine may not provide protection from disease in every person.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving this vaccine?

You should not receive a meningococcal conjugate vaccine if you have ever had an allergic reaction to a meningococcal or a diphtheria vaccine.

If you have any of these other conditions, your vaccine may need to be postponed or not given at all:

  • a history of Guillain-Barré syndrome;
  • a history of premature birth;
  • any condition that weakens your immune system (such as HIV, AIDS, or cancer); or
  • a condition for which you are receiving steroids, chemotherapy, or radiation treatments.

You can still receive a vaccine if you have a minor cold. In the case of a more severe illness with a fever or any type of infection, wait until you get better before receiving this vaccine.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Your doctor should determine whether you need this vaccine during pregnancy. If you are pregnant, your name may be listed on a pregnancy registry. This is to track the outcome of the pregnancy and to evaluate any effects of this vaccine on the baby.

The Menactra brand of this vaccine should not be given to anyone younger than 9 months or older than 55 years of age. The Menveo brand should not be given to anyone younger than 2 months or older than 65 years of age.

How is this vaccine given?

This vaccine is given as an injection (shot) into a muscle. You will receive this injection in a doctor's office or clinic setting.

Meningococcal conjugate vaccine is recommended if:

  • you have been exposed to an outbreak of meningococcal disease;
  • you are in the military;
  • you work in a laboratory and are exposed to meningococcal bacteria;
  • you live in a dormitory or other group housing;
  • you live in or travel to an area where meningococcal disease is common;
  • you have a medical problem affecting your spleen, or your spleen has been removed;
  • you have HIV;
  • you use a medicine called eculizumab (Soliris); or
  • you have an immune system disorder called "persistent complement component deficiency."

Meningococcal conjugate vaccine is usually given only once to adults and children who are 2 years and older. Younger children will need to receive 2 to 4 doses. You may need a booster dose if you have a high risk of meningococcal infection and it has been at least 4 years since you last received this vaccine.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that all teens ages 11 to 12 years be vaccinated with a single dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine. A booster dose should be given at age 16 for continued protection when teens are at highest risk of meningococcal disease.

Your booster schedule may be different from these guidelines. Follow your doctor's instructions or the schedule recommended by your local health department.

Be sure to receive all recommended doses of this vaccine or you may not be fully protected against disease.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Contact your doctor if you miss a booster dose or if you get behind schedule. The next dose should be given as soon as possible. There is no need to start over.

What happens if I overdose?

An overdose of this vaccine is not likely to occur.

What should I avoid before or after receiving this vaccine?

Follow your doctor's instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.

What are the possible side effects of this vaccine?

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; dizziness, weakness; fast heartbeats; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Keep track of any and all side effects you have after receiving this vaccine. When you receive a booster dose, you will need to tell the doctor if the previous shot caused any side effects.

You should not receive a booster vaccine if you had a life-threatening allergic reaction after the first shot.

Becoming infected with meningococcal disease and developing meningitis (infection of the spinal cord and lining of the brain) is much more dangerous to your health than receiving this vaccine. However, like any medicine, this vaccine can cause side effects but the risk of serious side effects is extremely low.

You may feel faint after receiving this vaccine. Some people have had seizure like reactions after receiving this vaccine. Your doctor may want you to remain under observation during the first 15 minutes after the injection.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • severe weakness or unusual feeling in your arms and legs (may occur 2 to 4 weeks after you receive the vaccine);
  • high fever; or
  • unusual behavior.

Common side effects may include:

  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea;
  • changes in appetite;
  • redness, pain, swelling, or a hard lump where the shot was given;
  • joint or muscle pain;
  • headache, drowsiness, tiredness
  • low fever, not feeling well; or
  • (in babies) fussiness, irritability.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report vaccine side effects to the US Department of Health and Human Services at 1 800 822 7967.

What other drugs will affect this vaccine?

Before receiving this vaccine, tell your doctor about all other vaccines you have recently received, especially:

  • a diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis vaccine (such as Daptacel); or
  • a pneumonia vaccine (such as Prevnar).

Also tell the doctor if you have recently received drugs or treatments that can weaken the immune system, including:

  • an oral, nasal, inhaled, or injectable steroid medicine;
  • chemotherapy; or
  • radiation treatment.

If you are using any of these medications, you may not be able to receive the vaccine, or may need to wait until the other treatments are finished.

This list is not complete. Other drugs may affect meningococcal conjugate vaccine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about this vaccine. Additional information is available from your local health department or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

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