Meningococcal ACWY Vaccine: What You Need to Know
Why get vaccinated?
Meningococcal ACWY vaccine can help protect against meningococcal disease caused by serogroups A, C, W, and Y. A different meningococcal vaccine is available that can help protect against serogroup B.
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.
Anyone can get meningococcal disease but 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 ACWY vaccine
Adolescents need 2 doses of a meningococcal ACWY vaccine:
- First dose: 11 or 12 year of age
- Second (booster) dose: 16 years of age
In addition to routine vaccination for adolescents, meningococcal ACWY vaccine is also recommended for certain groups of people:
- People at risk because of a serogroup A, C, W, or Y meningococcal disease outbreak
- People with HIV
- Anyone whose spleen is damaged or has been removed, including people with sickle cell disease
- Anyone with a rare immune system condition called "persistent 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
- Anyone traveling to, or living in, a part of the world where meningococcal disease is common, such as parts of Africa
- College freshmen living in residence halls
- U.S. military recruits
Talk with your health care provider
Tell your vaccine provider if the person getting the vaccine:
- Has had an allergic reaction after a previous dose of meningococcal ACWY vaccine, or has any severe, life-threatening allergies.
In some cases, your health care provider may decide to postpone meningococcal ACWY vaccination to a future visit.
Not much is known about the risks of this vaccine for a pregnant woman or breastfeeding mother. However, pregnancy or breastfeeding are not reasons to avoid meningococcal ACWY vaccination. A pregnant or breastfeeding woman should be vaccinated if otherwise indicated.
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 ACWY vaccine.
Your health care provider can give you more information.
Risks of a vaccine reaction
- Redness or soreness where the shot is given can happen after meningococcal ACWY vaccine.
- A small percentage of people who receive meningococcal ACWY vaccine experience muscle or joint pains.
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 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. 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. There is a time limit to file a claim for compensation.
How can I learn more?
- Ask your health care provider.
- Call your local or state health department.
- Contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Call 1-800-232-4636 (1-800-CDC-INFO) or
- Visit CDC's website at www.cdc.gov/vaccines
Vaccine Information Statement (Interim)
Meningococcal ACWY Vaccines
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.