Concerns About Immunisation Side Effects
If a side effect following immunisation is unexpected, persistent or severe, or if you are worried about yourself or your childs condition after an immunisation, see your doctor or immunisation nurse as soon as possible or go directly to a hospital.
It is important to seek medical advice if you are unwell, as this may be due to other illness rather than because of the vaccination.
In Victoria you can report immunisation side effects to SAEFVIC, the vaccine safety and central reporting service on Tel. 1300 882 924 #1. Ask your immunisation provider how to report adverse events in other states or territories.
You Are Pregnant Or Breastfeeding
- Pregnant women who are at increased risk for serogroup A, C, W, or Y meningococcal disease may get MenACWY vaccines.
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women who are at increased risk for serogroup B meningococcal disease may get MenB vaccines. However, they should talk with a clinician to decide if the benefits of getting the vaccine outweigh the risk.
What Are The Possible Reactions After The Vaccine
Vaccines are very safe. It is much safer to get the vaccine than to get meningococcal disease. Common reactions to the vaccine include soreness, redness and swelling where the vaccine was given. Fever, crankiness, sleepiness, muscle aches and headache may also occur. These reactions are usually mild and generally last 1 to 2 days.
Reactions, including fever, are more common in children under 2 years of age if the Men-B vaccine is given with other routine childhood vaccines.
It is important to stay in the clinic for 15 minutes after getting any vaccine because there is an extremely rare possibility, less than 1 in a million, of a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. This may include hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the throat, tongue or lips. Should this reaction occur, your health care provider is prepared to treat it. Emergency treatment includes administration of epinephrine and transfer by ambulance to the nearest emergency department. If symptoms develop after you leave the clinic, call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
It is important to always report serious or unexpected reactions to your health care provider.
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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.
Nature Of The Disease
Meningococcal disease is caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis. The bacterium is commonly known as meningococcus.
There are 13 known meningococcal serogroups, distinguished by differences in surface polysaccharides of the bacteriums outer membrane capsule. Globally, serogroups A, B, C, W-135 and Y most commonly cause disease.
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Types And Composition Of Meningococcal Vaccines
Of the 4 meningococcal vaccines available in the United States, 2 are conjugate vaccines and 2 are recombinant protein vaccines. Meningococcal vaccines also vary by the number of serogroups they provide protection against. Both recombinant protein vaccines are monovalent vaccines. This means the Food and Drug Administration licensed them to provide protection against 1 serogroup . In contrast, both conjugate vaccines provide protection against 4 serogroups , making them quadrivalent vaccines.
Meningococcal Acwy Vaccine Side Effects
The meningococcal ACWY vaccine is effective and safe, although all medications can have unwanted side effects.
Side effects from this vaccine are uncommon and are usually mild, but may include:
- localised pain, redness and swelling at the injection site
- occasionally, an injection-site lump that may last many weeks
- low-grade temperature
- children being unsettled, irritable, tearful, or generally unhappy, drowsy and tired.
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Who Should Get The Meningococcal Vaccine
- This vaccine is provided free to infants as part of their routine immunizations. The vaccine is given as a series of two doses. The first is given at 2 months of age, and the second at 12 months.
- This vaccine is also free for people:
- Born before 2002, who are 24 years of age and under who did not get a dose of vaccine on or after their 10th birthday.
- Who have been in close contact with someone with meningococcal type C disease.
Meningococcal Vaccine: Canadian Immunization Guide
For health professionals
Latest partial content update :
: The chapter has been updated to align with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization Statement : The Use of Bivalent Factor H Binding Protein Meningococcal Serogroup B Vaccine for the Prevention of Meningococcal B Disease.
MenB-fHBP vaccine may be considered as an option for use in individuals 10 years of age and older in situations when a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine should be offered:
MenB-fHBP vaccine may be considered as an option for individuals 1025 years of age who are not at higher risk of meningococcal disease than the general population, but who wish to reduce their risk of invasive serogroup B meningococcal disease.
Last complete chapter revision: May 2015
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More Information About The Vaccine
The MenB vaccine was introduced into the UK schedule on 1st September 2015. The UK is the first country in the world to introduce a MenB vaccine into its routine vaccination schedule. It is expected that results from the UK programme will influence other countries’ decisions about including the MenB vaccine as part of routine vaccination.
There is a useful list of FAQs about the MenB vaccine on the Meningitis Research Foundation website .
Before 1999, most cases of meningococcal disease in the UK were caused by MenC infection. A MenC vaccination programme was successfully introduced in the UK in 1999. Since then, cases of MenC disease have fallen dramatically in the UK. In the last 10 years, about 90% of the cases of meningococcal disease in the UK have been caused by group B infections. Before the MenB vaccine was introduced around 600 people a year in the UK were infected by MenB, mainly babies and children. About 10% of those who get the disease will die .
Charlotte Nott developed septicaemia through type B meningococcal disease infection. In the short film below, her mother, Jenny Daniels, talks about the impact on Charlotte and the rest of her family.
See also our blog posts on the MenB vaccine in the UK:
How Are The Bacteria Spread
These bacteria are passed from person-to-person through saliva . You must be in close contact with an infected persons saliva in order for the bacteria to spread. Close contact includes activities such as kissing, sharing water bottles, sharing eating/drinking utensils or sharing cigarettes with someone who is infected or being within 3-6 feet of an infected person who is coughing or sneezing.
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Acwy Vaccination Is Free For Some People
In Victoria, immunisation against meningococcal serogroups A, C, W and Y is available for free as part of the National Immunisation Program schedule for:
- children aged 12 months
- children from 13 months to under 20 years of age, who did not have their meningococcal C vaccine at 12 months
- young people in Year 10 of secondary school
- young people not in secondary school, aged 15 to 19 years.
Young people in the 15 to 19 years age group are more likely to spread the disease to others. One in five people in this age group carry the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease. Immunisation experts have advised that immunising this age group can prevent spread to other age groups and protect the wider community.
Eligible young people who are away from school on the day the vaccine was given, or who do not attend secondary school, can attend either a local government community immunisation session, or a general practitioner to receive the free meningococcal ACWY vaccine. The GP may charge a consultation fee.
Contact your local government to find out when and where immunisation sessions are held.
- People with specified medical risk conditions can also receive free meningococcal ACWY vaccine. This includes people with:
- a poorly functioning spleen or no spleen, including sickle cell disease or other haemoglobinopathies
- defects in, or a deficiency of, a complement component, including factor H, factor D or properdin deficiency
- current or future treatment with eculizumab .
How Does The Meningococcal Vaccine Work
Two types of antimeningococcal vaccines are available:
- Meningococcal conjugate vaccine type C : this is the most widely used it can be administered from three months of age and provides effective and long-lasting protection.
- Tetravalent conjugate vaccine against meningococci type A, C, Y, W135 : there are two varieties, one administered from 12 months of age and one from two years of age. It is recommended when travelling to countries at risk for the presence of these serotypes.
The conjugate vaccine is administered by intramuscular injection: in the arm from the age of 9 years, in the antero-lateral aspect of the thigh for younger children.
The tetravalent vaccine is given subcutaneously in the upper arm.
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Persons New To Canada
Health care providers who see persons newly arrived in Canada should review the immunization status and update immunization for these individuals. Review of meningococcal vaccination status is particularly important for persons from areas of the world where sickle cell disease is present as persons with sickle cell disease are at risk of serious meningococcal infections. In many countries outside of Canada, conjugate meningococcal vaccines are in limited use. Information on vaccination schedules in other countries can be found on the World Health Organization website. Refer to Immunization of Persons New to Canada in Part 3 for additional general information.
Rare Side Effects Of Meningococcal Immunisation
There is a very small risk of a serious allergic reaction to any vaccine. This is why you are advised to stay at the clinic or medical surgery for at least 15 minutes following immunisation in case further treatment is required.
If any other reactions are severe and persistent, or if you are worried, contact your doctor for further information.
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How Common Is Meningococcal Disease
Using differences in the surface sugars of the Neisseria meningitidis organisms outer membrane capsule, we are able to classify the bacteria into serogroups , and each serogroup is given a letter of the alphabet, for example, A, B, C and so on. There are 13 different serogroups.
Globally, most meningococcal disease is caused by serogroups A, B, C, W and Y. These were chosen as the targets for vaccines.
The bug poses the greatest risk of infection in those people with immune system weaknesses. But healthy people in our community who are smokers, live in crowded living conditions, engage in intimate kissing with multiple partners , and those with a recent or current viral respiratory infection are also targets.
The burden of meningococcal disease fluctuates naturally over time. The rate declined from 2002 to 2013, but has been on the increase since 2014.
Serogroup C disease has become very rare since the introduction of a free vaccine in 2003.
Serogroup B disease has been dominant until recently, but has been naturally declining in most states and territories, even without widespread vaccination against this serogroup.
Serogroup W disease has increased since 2013. This is now the main cause of meningococcal disease in Australia, accounting for 44.7% of cases in 2016.
Children aged under two years have the highest rates of meningococcal W and Y disease, followed by older adolescents.
What Should You Get
The inevitable question parents ask is, should I pay to get my child vaccinated against MenB and MenACWY?
In an ideal world, the answer would be give both vaccines. If you or your child has immune system weaknesses then definitely go for both optional vaccines.
Another way to answer would be to state what we know. We know both vaccines are effective against severe disease. We know they can be given on the same day safely. But we also know no vaccine is 100% effective, and a person may still become infected even after immunisation.
If you are very worried your child may have meningococcal disease, whether vaccinated or not, seek medical advice immediately.
Editors note: since this article was first published, the meningococcal ACWY vaccine has been added to the National Immunisation Program Schedule for children at 12 months. The vaccine will also be available for all adolescents aged 14-19 from April 2019.
*Correction: this article originally said adolescents needed one dose of the MenB vaccine, rather than two, and did not mention boosters.
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Common And Local Adverse Events
Conjugate meningococcal vaccines
Injection site reactions occur in up to 59% of vaccinees. Fever is reported in up to 5% of recipients and systemic reactions, such as headache and malaise, are reported in up to 60% of recipients.
Mild reactions, including injection site reactions , occur in up to 50% of vaccine recipients. Irritability occurs in up to 80% of infants and fever in up to 9% when other vaccines were administered. Headaches and malaise occur in up to 10% of older children and adults. These reactions last no more than a few days.
Serogroup B Meningococcal vaccines
Solicited local and systemic reactions have been commonly reported in clinical trials and include injection site tenderness, induration, sleepiness and irritability. Higher rates of fever have been observed with simultaneous administration of 4CMenB vaccine and routine infant vaccines therefore, routine prophylactic administration of acetaminophen or separating 4CMenB vaccination from routine vaccination schedule has been proposed for preventing fever in infants and children up to three years of age.
Solicited local and systemic reactions have been commonly reported in clinical trials and include injection site tenderness, induration and irritability.
Healthy Infants And Children
One dose of Men-C-C vaccine is recommended in unimmunized children less than 5 years of age. One dose of Men-C-C vaccine may be considered for children 5 to 11 years of age if they have not previously been immunized as infants or toddlers. Immunization with 4CMenB vaccine or MenB-fHBP may be considered on an individual basis, depending on individual preferences, regional serogroup B epidemiology and strain susceptibility.
Meningitis B Is A Killer
Meningococcal group B bacteria are a serious cause of life-threatening infections worldwide, including meningitis and .
They’re also the leading infectious killer of babies and young children in the UK.
There are 12 known groups of meningococcal bacteria, and group B is responsible for about 9 in every 10 meningococcal infections in the UK.
Meningitis and sepsis caused by meningococcal group B bacteria can affect people of any age but are most common in babies and young children.
While most young children recover from MenB, around 1 in 20 die from the infection.
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 , 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 . 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.
Meningococcal B Vaccine: Frequently Asked Questions
In June 2015, the U. S. Advisory Committee on Immunizations Practices provided a category B recommendation for both Men B vaccines, making the vaccine appropriate for individual clinical decision-making:
A serogroup B meningococcal vaccine series may be administered to adolescents and young adults 16 through 23 years of age to provide short term protection against most strains of serogroup B meningococcal disease. The preferred age for Men B vaccination is 16 through 18 years of age.3,4
This is not a category A or âroutineâ recommendation, so many health care providers and patients have questions about the vaccine. Below is a list of frequently asked questions that may assist with decision-making:
Should low risk patients aged 16 to 23 be advised to get one of the new Men B vaccines? There is no clear answer to that question. Persons aged 16 to 23 are at an increased risk of contracting meningococcal infections. However, the incidence of Men B disease is low and seems to be getting lower. There is limited information about the clinical efficacy and safety of the vaccines. This is one of the reasons the ACIP gave this recommendation a B rather than an A rating.3,4
Will immunizing populations decrease carriage of the meningococcal B bacteria? So far, limited studies have not shown a decrease of asymptomatic carriage in immunized populations. More studies are planned.4
Where can I get more information? More information is available at the CDC/ACIP website.