Why get vaccinated?Meningococcal B vaccine can help protect against meningococcal disease caused by serogroup B. A different meningococcal vaccine is available that can help protect against serogroups A, C, W, and Y.
Meningococcal disease can cause meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) and infections of the blood. Even when it is treated, meningococcal disease kills 10 to 15 infected people out of 100. And of those who survive, about 10 to 20 out of every 100 will suffer disabilities such as hearing loss, brain damage, kidney damage, loss of limbs, nervous system problems, or severe scars from skin grafts.
- Anyone can get meningococcal disease but certain people are at increased risk, including:
- Infants younger than one year old
- Adolescents and young adults 16 through 23 years old
- People with certain medical conditions that affect the immune system
- Microbiologists who routinely work with isolates of N. meningitidis, the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease
- People at risk because of an outbreak in their community
Meningococcal B vaccine
For best protection, more than 1 dose of a meningococcal B vaccine is needed. There are two meningococcal B vaccines available. The same vaccine must be used for all doses.
Meningococcal B vaccines are recommended for people 10 years or older who are at increased risk for serogroup B meningococcal disease, including:
- People at risk because of a serogroup B meningococcal disease outbreak
- Anyone whose spleen is damaged or has been removed, including people with sickle cell disease
- Anyone with a rare immune system condition called “persistent complement component deficiency”
- Anyone taking a type of drug called a complement inhibitor, such as eculizumab (also called Soliris®) or ravulizumab (also called Ultomiris®)
- Microbiologists who routinely work with isolates of N. meningitidis
These vaccines may also be given to anyone 16 through 23 years old to provide short-term protection against most strains of serogroup B meningococcal disease; 16 through 18 years are the preferred ages for vaccination.
Talk with your health care provider
Tell your vaccine provider if the person getting the vaccine:
- Has had an allergic reaction after a previous dose of meningococcal B vaccine, or has any severe, life-threatening allergies.
- Is pregnant or breastfeeding.
In some cases, your health care provider may decide to postpone meningococcal B vaccination to a future visit.
People with minor illnesses, such as a cold, may be vaccinated. People who are moderately or severely ill should usually wait until they recover before getting meningococcal B vaccine.
Your health care provider can give you more information.
Risks of a vaccine reaction
Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot is given, tiredness, fatigue, headache, muscle or joint pain, fever, chills, nausea, or diarrhea can happen after meningococcal B vaccine. Some of these reactions occur in more than half of the people who receive the vaccine.
People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.
As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.
What if there is a serious problem?
An allergic reaction could occur after the vaccinated person leaves the clinic. If you see signs of a severe allergic reaction (hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or weakness), call 9-1-1 and get the person to the nearest hospital.
For other signs that concern you, call your health care provider.
Adverse reactions should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Your health care provider will usually file this report, or you can do it yourself. Visit the VAERS website or call 1-800-822-7967. VAERS is only for reporting reactions, and VAERS staff do not give medical advice.