Meningitis is an infection of the spinal cord and fluid surrounding the brain. Meningococcal disease also causes blood infections. Children and young adults, particularly college freshmen who live in dormitories, are most often affected by meningococcal disease, but persons of any age can become infected. There are 2 types of meningococcal disease: bacterial and viral. Severity of the disease and treatment depend on which type a person has.
There are several vaccines available for meningococcal disease- one set for serogroups A, C, Y, and W (MCV4) and one set for serogroup B (MenB). MCV4 is routinely recommended for all adolescents at 11-12 years of age, with a booster dose at age 16. Younger children with certain high risk conditions should also be vaccinated with MCV4 vaccine- see the
current policy for details.
In addition, the ACIP has also made a
Category B recommendation for Men B vaccine in adolescents and young adults, stating, "A serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) vaccine series may be administered to adolescents and young adults 16 through 23 years of age to provide short term protection against most strains of serogroup B meningococcal disease. The preferred age for MenB vaccination is 16 through 18 years of age." The decision to vaccinate is made individually by the physician and patient/family.
In February 2015, ACIP recommended routine use of MenB vaccines in
certain groups of persons at increased risk for serogroup B meningococcal disease, including during outbreaks of serogroup B meningococcal disease. AAP recommendations on use of MenB vaccine are in process.
Don't forget that
adolescents need 2 to 3 doses of meningococcal vaccine, depending on the serogroup protection and manufacturer chosen. Rates of the second dose for MCV4 are much lower than the first dose. Strategies such as
reminder recall can help more fully protect adolescents against meningococcal disease.
letter from a group of organizations encouraging second dose vaccination for MCV4.