Meningococcal Vaccine Side Effects
The most common meningococcal vaccine side effects are injection-site pain, fatigue, muscle aches, and fever. In rare cases, the vaccine causes allergic reactions or other severe side effects.
What are meningococcal vaccine names?
There are a total of 6 meningococcal vaccines that are approved in the United States. These vaccines are recommended for babies, teenagers, and some adults, depending on patient risk-factors.
There are three vaccines to protect against Neisseria meningititis bacteria types A, C, W, and Y:
- Menomune® — Polysaccharide MPSV4 and MenACWY vaccine for people age 2 and older.
- Menactra® — Conjugate MCV4 and MenACWY vaccine for people ages 9 months to 55 years old. Two doses are given to preteens and teenagers, and certain people at high risk.
- Menveo® — Conjugate MCV4 and MenACWY vaccine for people ages 2 months to 55 years old. Two doses are given to preteens and teenagers, and certain people at high risk.
There are two vaccines to protect against Neisseria meningitidis bacteria type B:
- Trumenba® — Serogroup B (MenB) vaccine for people ages 10-25 years. Given as a 2-dose series of shots.
- Bexsero® — Serogroup B (MenB) vaccine for people ages 10-25 years. Given as a 2-dose or 3-dose series of shots, depending on age and risk-factors for meningococcal disease.
There is one vaccine to protect against Neisseria meningitidis bacteria types C and Y that is specifically for infants and toddlers. This combination vaccine is called MenHibrix® (Hib-MenCY) and it is made by GlaxoSmithKline. It is an inactivated bacterial vaccine against Meningococcal disease and Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib disease) for babies between 6 weeks and 18 months old.
How is the vaccine given?
All 11 to 12 year-olds should be vaccinated with a meningococcal conjugate vaccine (Menactra® or Menveo®) with a booster dose recommended at age 16 years old.
Teenagers and adults between the ages of 16 and 23 years old may be vaccinated with serogroup B meningococcal vaccine (Trumenba® or Bexsero®), preferably at age 16 or 18 years old.
In addition, certain children and adults should get a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine (Trumenba® or Bexsero®) if they have a rare disorder (complement component deficiency), taking a medication called Soliris®, damaged or missing spleen, or are otherwise at risk.
What are common side effects of the meningococcal vaccine?
The most common side effects of meningococcal conjugate vaccines usually last for 1-2 days:
- Reactions where the shot was given
- Joint pain
- Loss of appetite
- Irritability or persistent crying in babies
- Malaise (feeling sick)
The most common side effects of Serogroup B meningococcal vaccines can last up to 3-7 days:
- Reactions where the shot was given
- Feeling tired (fatigue)
- Muscle or joint pain
- Body chills
What are severe side effects of the meningococcal vaccine?
People sometimes faint after a medical procedure, including vaccinations. Sitting or lying down for 15 minutes can help prevent fainting and injuries from falling. Tell your doctor if you feel dizzy, have vision changes, or ringing in the ears.
Some people get very severe pain in the shoulder and have trouble moving the arm where the shot was given. This is called Shoulder Injury Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA). It is caused by the vaccine needle accidentally hitting a tendon, ligament, or the bursa.
Any medication can cause a severe allergic reaction, including vaccines. The risk is estimated at about 1 in a million doses, and would happen within a few minutes or hours of receiving the vaccine.
What other side effects have been reported?
- Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM)
- Allergic reaction
- Apnea in premature infants
- Anaphylactic reactions
- Guillain-Barré Syndrome
- Transverse myelitis