Meningococcal

The Meningococcus section was provided with content from the Meningitis Research Foundation of Canada.

Are there different meningococcus strains? What are the associated vaccines?
Yes, there are several strains of meningococcus. The most common are called Groups A, B, C, Y and W. Vaccines are used routinely to protect against groups ACYW. There are four vaccines available to protect against Meningococcal:

  • Meningococcal C (Men-C-C)
  • Meningococcal B (4CMenB)
  • Meningococcal Conjugate A + C + Y +W135 (Men-C-ACYW-135)
  • Meningococcal Polysaccharide A + C + Y +W135 (Men-P-ACYW-135)

Each vaccine offers protection against different types of Meningococcal strains and is recommended to individuals depending on their age and risk factors.

Children across Canada are routinely vaccinated with one of the conjugated group C vaccines (Menjugate C® NeissVac C® or Meningitech®) that protect only against meningococcal disease caused by group C at 1 year of age or earlier. In addition, many provinces also vaccinate children in school-base diseased programs between 10-13 years of age.

Conjugated ACYW vaccine protects against meningococcal disease caused by groups A,C,Y and W-135. It can be used in children 2 years of age and older previously vaccinated against Group C, thereby serving as a booster of immunity to group C while also providing protection against groups A, Y, and W. It can also be used in children 2 years of age and older who have not previously been vaccinated with any meningococcal vaccine.

Meningococcal C

What is the Men-C-C vaccine?
The Men-C-C vaccine protects against infection from meningococcal bacteria, type C.

What are the benefits of this vaccine?
The Men-C-C vaccine protects against serous infection from meningococcal type C that can sometimes be fatal.

Who should get this vaccine?
The Men-C-C vaccine is recommended for infants and pre-teens. It is also recommended for individuals at risk, including:

  • Individuals with functional or anatomic asplenia (including sickle cell disease)
  • Individuals with certain genetic risk factors
  • Individuals who have been exposed to an infected person
  • Individuals with respiratory tract infection
  • Individuals recently infected with influenza
  • Individuals living in crowded housing
  • Individuals with HIV

Meningococcal B

What is the 4CMenB vaccine?
The 4CMenB vaccine protects against infection from some strains of the meningococcal bacteria, type B.

What are the benefits of this vaccine?
The 4CMenB vaccine is effective at protecting against infection from some strains of meningococcal type B.

Who should get this vaccine?
The 4CMenB vaccine is recommended for persons with a high risk of infection from meningococcus. People at high risk include:

  • Individuals with functional or anatomic asplenia (including sickle cell disease)
  • Individuals with congenital or acquired complement, properdin, factor D or primary antibody deficiencies
  • Individuals with certain genetic risk factors
  • Individuals who have been exposed to an infected person
  • Individuals with respiratory tract infection
  • Individuals recently infected with influenza
  • Researchers, laboratory and industry personnel constantly exposed to meningococcal disease
  • Military personnel during recruit training
  • Travellers
  • Individuals who have had close contact with a person with meningococcal disease, including:
    • In crowded housing or sleeping arrangements
    • Direct nose or mouth contact (e.g. kissing)
    • Children and staff in child care facilities

Immunization of people with HIV can be considered. People with HIV should speak with their health care provider about what is appropriate for them.

The vaccine is also recommended for control of outbreaks with meningococcal B, if the strain causing illness is one in the vaccine.

Meningococcal conjugate A + C + Y + W135

What is the Men-C-ACYW-135
The Men-C-ACYW-135 vaccine protects against 4 types of meningococcal bacteria.

What are the benefits of this vaccine?
The vaccine is the best way to protect against meningococcal disease, a serious infection that can often be fatal.

Who should get this vaccine?
The Men-C-ACYW-135 vaccine is recommended for pre-teens. It is also recommended for individuals between 2-55 years of age in the following high-risk groups:

  • Individuals with functional or anatomic asplenia
  • Individuals with complement, properdin, or factor D deficiencies
  • Individuals with HIV
  • Travellers when meningococcal vaccine is indicated of required, including pilgrims to the Hajj in Mecca
  • Individuals who have been exposed to an infected person
  • Researchers, laboratory and industry personnel who are routinely exposed to N. meningitidis
  • Military personnel during recruit training

Meningococcal polysaccharide A + C + Y + W135

What is the Men-P-ACYW-135 vaccine?
The Men-P-ACYW-135 vaccine protects against 4 types of meningococcal bacteria.

What are the benefits of this vaccine?
The vaccine is the best way to protect against meningococcal disease, a serious infection that can often be fatal.

Who should get this vaccine?
The vaccine is not recommended for routine immunization. The vaccine is recommended for certain groups that may be at increased risk of infection of meningococcal disease. These include:

  • Individuals with functional or anatomic asplenia
  • Individuals with complement, properdin, or factor D deficiencies
  • Military recruits
  • Travellers to high-risk areas
  • Researchers, laboratory and industry personnel who are routinely exposed to N. meningitidis

More on Meningococcal Disease and Vaccines

What are the common reactions after the vaccine?
All of the vaccines against bacterial meningitis are effective in preventing disease and are very safe. Common reactions to the vaccine may include soreness, redness and swelling where the vaccine was given. Headache, muscle soreness, chills, fever, and nausea may also occur after getting the vaccine. These reactions are mild and generally last 1 to 2 days.

For more information on vaccine safety and possible side effects, visit the Meningococcal vaccine: Canadian Immunization Guide.

What is meningococcal disease?
Meningococcal disease is a rare but potentially serious infection caused by meningococcal bacteria. Infection can lead to two complications: brain infection (meningitis) or blood infection (septicemia). While meningococcal disease and its complication are uncommon, the consequences can be devastating.

What are the symptoms of meningococcal disease?
Early signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease include: severe headaches, neck stiffness, high fevers and a rash. If these occurs, immediately seek medical attention.

How is it spread?
Meningococcal disease spreads through close contact and sharing of items like drinks, cutlery or toys. However, the most common form of transmission is contact with carriers of the bacteria. One in five healthy teens and adults are carriers of the bacteria and may remain a carrier of the same strain for up to six months.