Meningococcal ACWY Vaccine - Basics to know

Meningococcal disease is a serious illness caused by a type of bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis. It can lead to meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) and infections of the blood.

Meningococcal disease often occurs without warning—even among people who are otherwise healthy. Meningococcal disease can spread from person to person through close contact (coughing or kissing) or lengthy contact, especially among people living in the same household.

There are at least 12 types of N. meningitidis, called “serogroups.” Serogroups A, B, C, W, and Y cause most meningococcal disease. Anyone can get meningococcal disease but certain people are at increased risk, including:‚

  • infants younger than one year old‚Adolescents
  • 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‚
  • people at risk because of an outbreak in their community

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, amputations, nervous system problems, or severe scars from skin grafts.

Meningococcal ACWY vaccine can help prevent meningococcal disease caused by serogroups A, C, W, and Y. A different meningococcal vaccine is available to help protect against serogroup B.

Meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY) is licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for protection against serogroups A, C, W, and Y. Two doses of MenACWY are routinely recommended for adolescents 11 through 18 years old: the first dose at 11 or 12 years old, with a booster dose at age 16.

Some adolescents, including those with HIV, should get additional doses. Ask your health care provider for more information.

In addition to routine vaccination for adolescents, MenACWY 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 drug called eculizumab (also called Soliris®)
  • 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 dormitories
  • ‚U.S. military recruits

Some people need multiple doses for adequate protection. Ask your health care provider about the number and timing of doses, and the need for booster doses.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.