Did you know that older children and young adults between the ages 11 and 19 have an increased risk of getting meningococcal disease, and that college freshmen living in dormitories are especially vulnerable?1

Meningococcal disease is a bacterial infection that can lead to meningitis, which results in fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. While meningococcal infections can be treated, about one out of every ten people dies from the disease.2

Symptoms are often mistaken for flu, and include: fever, vomiting, confusion and a pink to purple-colored rash mainly located on the lower arms and legs with small bruises or bleeding under the skin.3 These symptoms require immediate medical treatment, as meningococcemia or meningitis can cause kidney failure, hearing loss, nervous system damage, and as mentioned above, death.4

The good news is that vaccines for the disease do exist, including:5

  1. The meningococcal conjugate vaccine, better known as MCV 4, is the preferred vaccine for people two through 55 years of age.
  2. The meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine, also referred to as MPSV4, is the only meningococcal vaccine licensed for people over 55.
  3. The serogroup B meningococcal vaccine, which is used for people who have been identified as being at an increased risk of contracting the disease.

If you’re not sure whether your child or teen has had the vaccine or if they should receive one, it’s important to speak with their physician. And if you’re a young adult, be sure to also speak with your doctor about meningococcal disease.


1. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/immunizations/Pages/Meningococcal-Vaccines-What-You-Need-to-Know.aspx
2. http://www.webmd.com/children/vaccines/meningococcal-vaccines-what-you-need-know
3. http://www.nfid.org/idinfo/meningitis/consumers-myths.html
4. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/teen/Pages/Meningococcal-Disease-Information-for-Teens-and-College-Students-.aspx
5. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/mening/who-vaccinate.htm

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