Are You Protected? Meningitis Vaccination Information for Consumers

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends immunization against meningococcal disease for:

  • All children 11-12 years of age at their preadolescent visit
  • For those not previously immunized, vaccination is recommended at the time of high school entry (15 years of age)
  • College freshmen living in dormitories before they depart for campus
  • US military recruits
  • Anyone who has a damaged spleen or whose spleen has been removed
  • All other adolescents and college students wishing to reduce their risk of contracting the disease may elect to be immunized

CDC focuses its vaccination efforts on groups at increased risk of disease. In one study, adolescents and young adults accounted for nearly 30 percent of cases of meningococcal disease and suffered a fatality rate of over 20 percent. During the ten-year period ending in 2002, 14 percent of cases were in those 14 to 24 years of age.

There is evidence that lifestyles behaviors common among adolescents and young adults may put them at increased risk for meningococcal disease. Household or intimate contact with a case increase risk 500- to 800-fold.

In 2005, the US Food and Drug Administration approved a meningococcal conjugate vaccine for use among persons 11 to 55 years of age. The vaccine is the first conjugate vaccine licensed in the US for the prevention of meningococcal disease. It is designed to offer protection against four serogroups of Neisseria meningitidis (A, C, Y, W-135), which account for of the majority cases in the US.