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Meningococcal vaccines


What are meningococcal vaccines?

Meningococcal vaccines protect against meningococcal infection, a serious and sometimes fatal disease. There are three types of meningococcal vaccines:
The type of vaccine recommended depends on a person's age and risk factors. 


Click on the vaccine name for information in different languages.

Who should get the meningococcal vaccine? 

Meningococcal C (Men-C) 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 Quadrivalent Vaccine

  • This vaccine is provided free to children in Grade 9.
  • This vaccine is also provided free to children and adults at high risk of meningococcal disease (such as those with certain medical conditions and those who have been in close contact with a person with meningococcal disease).
  • This vaccine is recommended, but not provided free, for those with occupational risks and those living or travelling in a high-risk area for meningococcal disease.
  • People who are not eligible for the free vaccine but want to be protected against meningococcal A, C, Y and W-135 strains of the disease can purchase the quadrivalent vaccine at most travel clinics and pharmacies.

Meningococcal B (Men-B) Vaccine

  • The Men-B vaccine is not part of the publicly funded routine schedule of immunizations in B.C. 
  • This vaccine is provided free to those 2 months of age and older who have been in close contact with a case of meningococcal B disease.
  • The vaccine is recommended but not provided free for those who are at high risk of meningococcal B infection due to certain medical conditions, those with occupational risks, and those travelling to an area where the risk of meningococcal B disease is high.
  • If you want to be protected against meningococcal B disease, you may buy the vaccine at some travel clinics and pharmacies. The vaccine is given by injection as a series of 2, 3, or 4 doses. The number of doses depends on how old you are when the immunization series is started. Speak with your health care provider for more information.

What are the benefits of the vaccine?

Vaccines that protect against meningococcal infection are the best way to protect against this serious disease that sometimes causes death. When you or your child get vaccinated, you help protect others too.

What are the side effects?

Vaccines are very safe. It is much safer to get the vaccine than to get meningococcal disease.
Many people have no side effects from the vaccines. For those that do, side effects are usually mild and last 1 to 2 days (see a list of common side effects for each vaccine below). Serious side effects are very rare.
It is important to stay in the clinic for 15 minutes after getting any vaccine because there is an extremely rare possibility of anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening allergic reaction. This may include hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the throat, tongue, or lips. The chance of true anaphylaxis is about 1 in 1 million vaccine doses. Should this reaction occur, your health care provider is prepared to treat it. Emergency treatment includes administration of epinephrine (adrenaline) 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. Learn more about anaphylaxis on our vaccine side effects page.
It is important to always report serious or unexpected reactions to your immunizing health care provider.

Meningococcal C (Men-C) Vaccine

Common side effects may include soreness, redness and swelling where the vaccine was given. Fever, drowsiness, crankiness, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache or muscle soreness may also occur within 24 hours after getting the vaccine. These reactions are mild and generally last 1 to 2 days.

Meningococcal Quadrivalent Vaccine

Common side effects may include soreness, redness and swelling where the vaccine was given. Headache, muscle soreness, chills, fever, and nausea may also occur after getting the vaccine. These reactions are mild and generally last 1 to 2 days.

Meningococcal B (Men-B) Vaccine

Common side effects 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.


What is meningococcal disease?

  • Meningococcal disease refers to any illness caused by bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis.
  • Although rare, these illnesses are often severe, can be deadly, and include infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream (septicemia). 
  • For every 100 people who get sick, up to 15 will die, even if they receive treatment.
  • Permanent complications of infection include brain damage, deafness, and loss of limbs.
  • People at any age can develop meningococcal disease; however, children younger than 5 are at the greatest risk, followed by people aged 15-19 years and 60 years and up. 
  • Meningococcal infection spreads from person to person by coughing, sneezing, or close face-to-face contact. It can also spread through saliva; this can occur through activities such as kissing or sharing food, drinks, cigarettes, lipsticks, water bottles, mouthguards used for sports, or mouthpieces of musical instruments.


Learn more

  • Click on the vaccine names above to read the vaccine HealthLink BC Files. The files contain more information on the vaccines, including who should not get the vaccines.
  • Talk to your health care provider. 


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