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Meningococcal B Vaccine: What You Need to Know
Why get vaccinated?
Meningococcal B vaccine can help protect against meningococcal disease caused by serogroup B. A different meningococcal vaccine is available that can help protect against serogroups A, C, W, and Y.
Meningococcal disease can cause meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) and infections of the blood. Even when it is treated, meningococcal disease kills 10 to 15 infected people out of 100. And of those who survive, about 10 to 20 out of every 100 will suffer disabilities such as hearing loss, brain damage, kidney damage, loss of limbs, nervous system problems, or severe scars from skin grafts.
Meningococcal disease is rare and has declined in the United States since the 1990s. However, it is a severe disease with a significant risk of death or lasting disabilities in people who get it.
Anyone can get meningococcal disease. Certain people are at increased risk, including:
- Infants younger than one year old
- Adolescents and young adults 16 through 23 years old
- People with certain medical conditions that affect the immune system
- Microbiologists who routinely work with isolates of N. meningitidis, the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease
- People at risk because of an outbreak in their community
Meningococcal B vaccine
For best protection, more than 1 dose of a meningococcal B vaccine is needed. There are two meningococcal B vaccines available. The same vaccine must be used for all doses.
Meningococcal B vaccines are recommended for people 10 years or older who are at increased risk for serogroup B meningococcal disease, including:
- People at risk because of a serogroup B meningococcal disease outbreak
- Anyone whose spleen is damaged or has been removed, including people with sickle cell disease
- Anyone with a rare immune system condition called "complement component deficiency"
- Anyone taking a type of drug called a "complement inhibitor," such as eculizumab (also called "Soliris"®) or ravulizumab (also called "Ultomiris"®)
- Microbiologists who routinely work with isolates of N. meningitidis
These vaccines may also be given to anyone 16 through 23 years old to provide short-term protection against most strains of serogroup B meningococcal disease, based on discussions between the patient and health care provider. The preferred age for vaccination is 16 through 18 years.
Talk with your health care provider
Tell your vaccination provider if the person getting the vaccine:
- Has had an allergic reaction after a previous dose of meningococcal B vaccine, or has any severe, life-threatening allergies
- Is pregnant or breastfeeding
In some cases, your health care provider may decide to postpone meningococcal B vaccination until a future visit.
Meningococcal B vaccination should be postponed for pregnant people unless the person is at increased risk and, after consultation with their health care provider, the benefits of vaccination are considered to outweigh the potential risks.
People with minor illnesses, such as a cold, may be vaccinated. People who are moderately or severely ill should usually wait until they recover before getting meningococcal B vaccine.
Your health care provider can give you more information.
Risks of a vaccine reaction
- Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot is given, tiredness, headache, muscle or joint pain, fever, or nausea can happen after meningococcal B vaccination. Some of these reactions occur in more than half of the people who receive the vaccine.
People sometimes faint after medical procedures, including vaccination. Tell your provider if you feel dizzy or have vision changes or ringing in the ears.
As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction, other serious injury, or death.
What if there is a serious problem?
An allergic reaction could occur after the vaccinated person leaves the clinic. If you see signs of a severe allergic reaction (hives, swelling of the face and throat, difficulty breathing, a fast heartbeat, dizziness, or weakness), call 9-1-1 and get the person to the nearest hospital.
For other signs that concern you, call your health care provider.
Adverse reactions should be reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Your health care provider will usually file this report, or you can do it yourself. Visit the VAERS website at www.vaers.hhs.gov or call 1-800-822-7967. VAERS is only for reporting reactions, and VAERS staff members do not give medical advice.
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) is a federal program that was created to compensate people who may have been injured by certain vaccines. Claims regarding alleged injury or death due to vaccination have a time limit for filing, which may be as short as two years. Visit the VICP website at www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation or call 1-800-338-2382 to learn about the program and about filing a claim.
How can I learn more?
- Ask your health care provider.
- Call your local or state health department.
- Visit the website of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for vaccine package inserts and additional information at www.fda.gov/vaccines-blood-biologics/vaccines.
- Contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Call 1-800-232-4636 (1-800-CDC-INFO) or
- Visit CDC's vaccines website at www.cdc.gov/vaccines.
Vaccine Information Statement
Serogroup B Meningococcal Vaccine
42 U.S.C. § 300aa-26
Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Many vaccine information statements are available in Spanish and other languages. See www.immunize.org/vis
Hojas de información sobre vacunas están disponibles en español y en muchos otros idiomas. Visite www.immunize.org/vis
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