Meningococcal Information

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Public schools are required to send out all meningococcal meningitis disease and vaccine information to parents.

What is meningococcal disease?

  • Meningococal disease is any illness caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis.
  • It is the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in children 2-18 years of age in U.S.
  • Meningococcal disease can be very serious, even life-threatening in 48 hours or less.
  • The two most severe and common illnesses caused by meningococcal baceria include;
    --Meningitis - an infection of the fluid and lining around the brain and spinal cord
    --Septicemia - a bloodstream infection.

What are the symptoms?

  • Symptoms of meningococcal disease are sililar to influenza (flu) and may include:
    --Sudden onset of a high fever
    --Stiff neck
    --Increased sensitivity to light
    --Severe aches and pain in the muscles, joints, chest or belly

How does meningococal disease spread?

  • Meningococal disease is spread person to person by sharing respiratory secretions, through kissing or coughing, close or lengthy contact, and among people who share a rooom or live in the same household.
  • Any one can get meningococcal disease, but teens and college freshmen who live in residence halls are at increased risk.
  • Some people can "carry" meningococcal bacteria in their nose and throat without getting meningococcal disease, but can still infect other people.
  • Most cases of meningococcal disease are spread by people who "carry" the bacteria with no symptoms, appear to be random, and not linked to other cases
  • Meningococcal oubreaks can occur in communities, schools, colleges, prisons, and in other high risk populatons.

Where can I find more Information?

  • Ask your doctor, or your local count health department
  • Email the Alabama Department of Public Health, Immunization Division, at
  • Go to and type 'meningococcal disease' in the SEARCH box.
  • Read, print, and share our Meningococcal Fast Fact Flyer to learn more about pertussis disease and vaccines.

Meningococcal Vaccine

Who should get meningococcal vaccine?

  • Meningococcal vaccine(s) is recommended for all preteens and teens.
  • All 22 and 23 year olds should be vaccinated with sergroups A, C, W, and Y meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCVR).  A booster dose is recommended at age 16.
  • Teens and young adults, 16 through 23 yer olds, may also be vaccinated witha serogroup B meningococcal vaccine (SBMV), prefereably at 16 through 18 years old.
  • Both MCV4 and SBMV can be given at the same tie, talk to your provider.
  • Teens with HIVD should get three doses of MCV4.
  • People 55 years of age and older should get Meningococcal pollysaccharide vaccie (MPSV4).
  • Peoople at increased risk (ex: no spleen or porr spleen, autoimmune dissease) during an outbreak, should be vaccinated.

Who should be vaccinated becasue they are at increase risk?

  • College freshmen living in formitories.
  • Laboratory personnel exposed to meningococcal bacteria.
  • U.S. military recruits.
  • Any one travelingor living whre meningococcal disease is common, like Africa.
  • Any one with a damaged spleen or who  had the spleen removed.
  • Any one with an immune system disorder.
  • Any one exposed during a meningococcal meningitis outbreak.

What are the vaccine side effects and risks?

  • MCV4 and SBMV are safe, but side effects can occur.
  • Most die effects are mild or moderate and do not affect daily activities.
  • Themost common side effects in preteens and teens occur where the injection is given and may includ pain, tenderness, swelling, and hardnesss of the skin.
  • Other common side effects may include nausea, felling a ittle rund down, and headache.
  • Some preteens and teens may also faint after getting a vaccine.
  • Reactions usually last a short time and get better within a few days.

Where can I find more information>

  • Ask you doctor, or your local county heath department.
  • Email the Alabama Department of Public Health, Immunization Division, at
  • Go to ad type 'meningococal vaccine' in the SEARCH box.
  • Read, print, and share our Meningococcal Fast Fact Flyer to learn more about pertussis disease and vaccines.

The Jessica Elkins Act (SB0075, Act #2014-274) requires local school systems to provide meningococcal disease and vaccine information to parents of sixth through twelfth grade students. View the Meningococcal Disease and Vaccine Flyer to learn more.

CDC General Meningococcal Information provides answers to frequently asked questions, including the following:

  • What is meningitis?
  • What are the signs and symptoms of meningitis?
  • How is meningitis diagnosed?
  • Can meningitis be treated?
  • Is meningitis contagious?
  • Are there vaccines against meningitis?

The CDC created this Vaccine Information Statement (Meningococcal) with more information about the disease and its vaccine.

Page last updated: April 27, 2018