- Adolescent Vaccination Recommendation: Meningococcal vaccination is recommended for all adolescents at 11-12 years of age, with a booster dose at age 16. For those who receive the first dose at 13-15 years of age, a booster is recommended at age 16 through 18. Adolescents should receive one meningococcal vaccine dose less than five years before starting college.
About meningococcal disease
Meningococcal disease is a rare, but dangerous bacterial infection that causes meningitis and blood poisoning. The number of meningococcal disease cases changes from year to year. There are approximately 1,000 cases of meningococcal disease in the US each year.
Anyone can get meningococcal disease, but adolescents are at increased risk. Meningococcal infection can spread quickly, killing an otherwise healthy person in 48 hours. Even with rapid, appropriate treatment, approximately 10-14 percent of people who become infected will die and 15 percent of survivors will suffer complications including brain damage, hearing loss, and amputations.
People who get meningococcal disease usually have meningitis or blood infection. Meningitis
, which is more common, causes high fever, headache, and stiff neck. Other symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, and mental status changes. Because the early symptoms are similar to less severe illnesses it is often misdiagnosed.
, also called bacteremia or sepsis, is less common but more deadly. It may begin with sudden onset of fever, accompanied by fatigue, aches, and headache, and about half of patients develop a prominent purplish rash, usually on the arms and legs.
The majority of cases among adolescents are vaccine preventable. The meningococcal vaccine is effective and safe in protecting against four of the five meningococcal types that are responsible for 70 percent of cases in adults and adolescents.