What is the meningococcal meningitis vaccine?

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The original meningococcal meningitis vaccine contains a nonconjugated meningococcal polysaccharide antigen (Menomune-A/C/Y/W-135) intended to protect people 11 to 18 years of age and those over 55 years of age from infections caused by Neisseria meningitidis subgroups A, C, Y and W-135. The newer meningococcal meningitis vaccines contain meningococcal polysaccharide diphtheria toxoid conjugate antigen (Menactra) or meningococcal oligosaccharide diphtheria toxoid conjugate antigen (Menveo). Both are intended to protect (and are preferred for) people age 2 to 55 years from infections caused by Neisseria meningitidis subgroups A, C, Y and W-135. The meningococcal polysaccharides and oligosaccharides are attached (conjugated) to diphtheria toxoid protein to make the immunity to N. meningitidis infection last longer; it does not confer any protection against diphtheria infection.

Meningococcal disease is a potentially fatal infection of the brain and spinal cord caused by the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
MCV4 is short for meningococcal conjugate vaccine, which protects against four types of bacterial meningitis (infections and inflammation of the fluid and membrane around the brain and spinal cord) that can cause high fever, headache, stiff neck, confusion, brain damage, hearing loss or blindness, and death. While meningococcal infection is unquestioningly severe when it happens, it is sporadic.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.