Meningococcal Vaccination: Types, Schedule & Side Effects

Many ailments may have fatal consequences in children, and one such disease is the meningococcal disease. As per one of the studies almost 1000 people get affected by meningococcal disease every year and out of that, approximately 150 lives are lost despite taking antibiotic medicines. This disease causes life-threatening conditions by attacking the brain, organs, and limbs in a very short period. The good news is you can protect your child against this deadly disease with the meningococcal vaccine and prevent this deadly infection. Learn more about the meningococcal vaccine or mcz4 and everything you need to know in the following article.

What Is Meningococcal Disease? 

Meningococcal disease is caused by bacteria, which is known as Neisseria meningitides. This disease may cause meningitis, a life-threatening condition where the membrane covering the brain and spinal cord becomes inflamed, or it may cause a severe blood infection which is called meningococcemia. This disease may cause mental retardation, seizures, hearing loss, amputation, nervous system problems, and stokes.

Why Is Meningococcal Vaccine Recommended for Young Children?

The ideal age to administer the meningococcal vaccine is in your kid’s preteens or teenage years, however, sometimes your doctor may suggest this vaccine for your younger children and even for infants who are as young as eight weeks old, especially if you are residing at UK, USA. Canada and some other countries. This may depend on the following reasons:

  • If your baby or child has some underlying medical condition.
  • If your child is exposed to the disease-causing bacteria Neisseria meningitides.
  • If your kid has complement component deficiencies.
  • If your child is suffering from HIV, functional or anatomic asplenia (which also includes sickle cell anemia)

These are some of the conditions where your doctor may prescribe a meningococcal vaccine for babies. The dosage may vary especially our different conditions. The booster doses will be followed up at regular intervals if the doctor feels that the child remains at an increased risk. The minimum gap between the vaccine doses can be 8 weeks. You may talk to the doctor in detail about administering the meningococcal vaccine to your younger child.

Types of Meningococcal Vaccine

There are two types of meningococcal vaccine, and they are discussed below:

  1. Conjugate Vaccine: Conjugate vaccine or meningococcal conjugate vaccine is administered in two doses at 9 months and 1 year of age or as a single dose at 2 years and if not given at this age then to the kids in their preteens or teens. It can also be administered to people who are at high risk of catching the meningococcal disease. This vaccine is effective in fighting against four kinds of bacteria that are responsible for causing meningococcal disease.
  1. Serogroup B (Recombinant) Meningococcal Vaccine: Serogroup B (Recombinant) Meningococcal Vaccine or meningococcal b vaccine is administered in two doses to people who are between 16 to 23 years of age and who are not at high risk of catching the meningococcal disease. It can be administered in two doses to kids who are 10 years or older and at a higher risk of catching the meningococcal disease. This vaccine gives protection from a single type of bacteria.

Depending on the type of infection, your doctor may prescribe you either of the above-mentioned types of vaccine.

Meningococcal Vaccine Schedule

In early childhood, the vaccine schedule is at 9 months and 12 months of age. One vaccine is given at 2 years of age for which you can discuss it with your paediatrician and get it done. If the vaccine is not given at that age, it can be administered between 11 to 18 years of age. If the first dosage is given at 11 or 12 years, the booster dose can be given at the age of 16. However, if the child has not received the first dose until 13 to 15 years, the second dose of the vaccine can be administered anytime between 16 to 18 years of age. Though if the vaccination is not given till 16 years of age, then only one dose of the vaccine may be required. This vaccine can also be administered in adults in two doses to prevent the infection. In some cases, infants as young as two months old can be administered the meningococcal vaccine.

Which Children Need to Get Vaccinated?

The vaccine for meningococcal disease or mcv4 meningococcal vaccine for a child is usually recommended at the age of the travelling 11 to 18 years. Though it is ideal to get your child vaccinated in some cases this vaccine becomes the need and this happens in the following cases:

  • Children who have a damaged spleen.
  • Children who are military recruits.
  • Children who are college freshmen or live in dormitories.
  • Children who have their spleen removed.
  • Children who have terminal complement component deficiency.
  • Children who are travelling to a country where there is an increased risk of catching the meningococcal disease.
  • Children who get exposed to meningitis bacteria.
  • Children who have HIV infection.
  • Children who are taking Soliris medicine.

Who Should Avoid This Vaccine? 

Though the meningococcal vaccine is highly recommended you should avoid the meningococcal vaccine under following the circumstances:

  • Your kid is sick or unwell: If your child is not feeling well or is sick, then you should avoid administering this vaccine to your child. However, minor illnesses like cold and cough should not be the reasons to prevent your child from taking the vaccine.
  • If your kid develops severe allergy: If you notice that your child develops a reaction or meningococcal vaccine side effects from the previous dose of meningococcal vaccine, latex, or DTaP vaccine, then it is suggested not to administer the next dose of the vaccine.

PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD AVOID GETTING THIS VACCINE

  • Pregnant or breastfeeding: It is not advisable to take the meningococcal vaccine during pregnancy or if you are a breastfeeding mom until it is necessary and prescribed by your doctor.

Meningococcal Vaccine Side Effects

Allergic reactions to vaccinations within a few hours of the shot are common. However, it is very unlikely that the meningococcal vaccine would give rise to severe allergies.

Mild pain or redness at the site of the shot may be noticed, but this resolves itself in a day or two. A small number of people have also experienced mild fever.

Certain reports suggest that individuals have been diagnosed with GBS or Guillain-Barre Syndrome after the vaccine. However, this is a very rare occurrence and some scientists have ruled it out as coincidental.

What If There Is a Severe Reaction in Your Child?

Meningococcal vaccine or meningococcal meningitis vaccine may cause a reaction in some children. The mild reaction will only have pain and redness or fever, which will subside within a day or two. The moderate reaction to the vaccine may cause fever, nausea, chills, muscle pain, redness, swelling, or, soreness. These symptoms may last up to three to seven days. The severe reaction may occur as soon as a few minutes after administering the vaccine. In all the above cases it is recommended to seek immediate medical help to reduce the chances of any complications that may arise.

The meningococcal vaccine is a very safe and effective vaccine used for protection against meningococcal disease. A mild reaction may be seen after taking the vaccine; however, you may consult your doctor to guide you about the same. You may also consult a health care professional on how and when to administer the vaccine for your child. This vaccine may help evade fatal complications that may arise from meningococcal disease.

Also Read:

Child Immunization & Vaccination Schedule
Painless Vaccination for Babies
Childhood Vaccinations for Various Diseases
Vaccinations for Newborn Baby

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