Meningococcal Information & RCW

Meningococcal Vaccination

Meningococcal disease, which is any type of illness caused by the Neisseria meningitidis bacteria, is spread by direct contact with infected people by coughing, kissing, or sharing anything by mouth, like utensils or toothbrushes.  It can cause pneumonia, blood stream infection, and meningitis (swelling of the covering of the brain and spinal cord which can be fatal).  Severe disease can cause brain damage, hearing loss, or limb loss. 

People exposed to the meningococcal bacteria may experience fever, cough, runny nose, headache, neck stiffness, nausea/vomiting, sensitivity to light and/or confusion.

Meningococcal vaccine can prevent four types of meningococcal disease.  It can’t prevent all types of the disease, but it does help protect many people who might become sick if they don’t get the vaccine.  Two meningococcal vaccines are available in the US.

  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccines (Menactra® and Menveo®)
  • Serogroup B meningococcal vaccines (Bexsero® and Trumenba®)

Current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidelines: All 11 to 12 year olds should be vaccinated with a meningococcal conjugate vaccine. A booster dose is recommended at age 16 years. Teens and young adults (16 through 23 year olds) also may be vaccinated with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine. In certain situations, other children and adults could be recommended to get meningococcal vaccines.

Talk with your or your child’s healthcare professional if you have questions about meningococcal vaccines.