Meningococcal vaccine (MCV4) protects against bacterial meningitis, which is a highly contagious and potentially life-threatening disease that causes inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord.

Immunization schedule—MCV4 is approved for use in children over the age of 2 and usually is administered as one injection, at 11–12 years of age. If not previously vaccinated, adolescents should receive MCV4 before entering college or the military. This vaccine should not be given to children who have had an allergic reaction to the DTaP vaccine or latex.

Pneumococcal vaccine (PCV) protects against infection with the pneumococcal bacterium, which can cause pneumonia, blood infections, and bacterial meningitis.

Immunization schedule—PCV is administered as follows:

  • Dose 1 at 2 months of age
  • Dose 2 at 4 months of age
  • Dose 3 at 6 months of age
  • Dose 4 at 12 months of age

Children over the age of 2 who have an underlying medical condition that increases the risk for pneumococcal infection also may receive the PPV (pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine).

In June 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first combination vaccine to prevent Hib disease and meningococcal disease in children between the ages of 6 weeks and 18 months.Called Menhibrix, this vaccine is given as a 4-dose series of immunizations as follows:

  • Dose 1 at 2 months of age (may be given as young as 6 weeks old)
  • Dose 2 at 4 months of age
  • Dose 3 at 6 months of age
  • Dose 4 at 12–15 months of age (may be given up to 18 months of age)

Adverse reactions following the Menhibrix vaccine include irritability, fever and pain, redness and swelling at the site of the injection.

In October 2012, the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended that infants at increased risk for meningococcal disease should be vaccinated with 4 doses of HibMenCY beginning at 2 months of age through 15 months. This vaccine protects against three strains of bacteria: Neisseria meningitidis serogroups C (MenC), Y (MenY) and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib). Babies at increased risk include those with persistent complement pathway deficiencies, sickle cell disease (impairs function of the spleen), and anatomical asplenia (absence of the spleen) who live in communities with group C and Y meningococcal disease outbreaks.

Dosing is as follows:

  • Dose 1 at 2 months of age
  • Dose 2 at 4 months of age
  • Dose 3 at 6 months of age
  • Dose 4 at 12–15 months of age (may be given up to 18 months of age)

The FDA approved Trumenba—the first vaccine in the United States to prevent meningitis caused by Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B—in October 2014. This vaccine is approved for use in children and young adults between the ages of 10 and 25.Trumenba received accelerated approval due to recent outbreaks of meningitis B on college and university campuses. The vaccine is administered in administered in a 3-dose series. According to the FDA, side effects include pain and swelling at the site of the injection, muscle and joint pain, headache, diarrhea, fatigue, and chills.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 27 Aug 2008

Last Modified: 14 Aug 2015