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Vaccines for Meningitis

What You Need to Know

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Updated June 19, 2014

Are there vaccines against meningitis?

Yes, there are vaccines against Hib and against some strains of N. meningitidis and many types of Streptococcus pneumoniae. The vaccines against Hib are very safe and highly effective.

There is also a vaccine that protects against four strains of N. meningitidis, but it is not routinely used in the United States. The vaccine against N. meningitidis is sometimes used to control outbreaks of some types of meningococcal meningitis in the United States. Meningitis cases should be reported to state or local health departments to assure follow-up of close contacts and recognize outbreaks. College freshman, especially those who live in dormitories are at higher risk for meningococcal disease and should be educated about the availability of a safe and effective vaccine which can decrease their risk. Although large epidemics of meningococcal meningitis do not occur in the United States, some countries experience large, periodic epidemics. Overseas travelers should check to see if meningococcal vaccine is recommended for their destination. Travelers should receive the vaccine at least 1 week before departure, if possible. Information on areas for which meningococcal vaccine is recommended can be obtained by calling the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at (404)-332-4565.

There are vaccines to prevent meningitis due to S. pneumoniae (also called pneumococcal meningitis) which can also prevent other forms of infection due to S. pneumoniae . The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is recommended for all persons over 65 years of age and younger persons at least 2 years old with certain chronic medical problems. There is a newly licensed vaccine (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine) that appears to be effective in infants for the prevention of pneumococcal infections and is routinely recommended for all children greater than 2 years of age.

reproduced from the CDC guide to Frequently Asked Questions about Meningococcal Disease

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