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All about: Meningococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine

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Some commonly used brand names are:

In the U.S.—

  • Menomune

In Canada—

  • Menomune

Category

  • Immunizing agent, active

Description

Meningococcal polysaccharide (ma-nin-ja-KOK-kal pol-i-SAK-ka-ryd) vaccine is an active immunizing agent used to prevent infection by certain groups of meningococcal bacteria. The vaccine works by causing your body to produce its own protection (antibodies) against the disease.

The following information applies only to the meningococcal vaccine used for meningococcal bacteria Groups A, C, Y, and W-135. These groups cause approximately 50% of meningococcal meningitis cases in the U.S. The vaccine will not protect against infection caused by other meningococcal bacteria groups, such as Group B.

Meningococcal infection can cause life-threatening illnesses, such as meningococcal meningitis, which affects the brain, and meningococcemia, which affects the blood. Some persons with meningococcal meningitis and/or meningococcemia also may die. These diseases are more likely to occur in young children and in persons with certain diseases or conditions that make them more susceptible to a meningococcal infection or more likely to develop serious problems from a meningococcal infection.

Immunization against meningococcal disease is recommended for persons 2 years of age or older who are at risk of getting the disease because:

  • they have certain diseases or conditions that make them more susceptible to a meningococcal infection or more likely to develop serious problems from a meningococcal infection.
  • they are living in, working in, or visiting an area where there is a strong possibility of contracting meningococcal disease.

Usually a person needs to receive meningococcal vaccine only once. However, additional injections may be needed for young children who remain at high risk for meningococcal disease.

Meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine is to be administered only by or under the supervision of your doctor or other health care professional. It is available in the following dosage form:

  • Parenteral
  • Injection (U.S. and Canada)

Before Receiving This Vaccine

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For meningococcal vaccine, the following should be considered:

Allergies—Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to meningococcal vaccine. Also tell your health care professional if you are allergic to any other substances, such as food or preservatives (especially thimerosal). This vaccine contains thimerosal.

Pregnancy—Meningococcal vaccine has not been shown to cause birth defects or other problems in humans.

Breast-feeding—Meningococcal vaccine has not been reported to cause problems in nursing babies.

Children—In general the use of meningococcal vaccine is restricted to persons 2 years of age and older; however, in some cases children as young as 3 months of age may be vaccinated. This vaccine has been tested in older children and, in effective doses, has not been shown to cause different side effects or problems than it does in adults.

Older adults—Many medicines have not been studied specifically in older people. Therefore, it may not be known whether they work exactly the same way they do in younger adults. Although there is no specific information comparing use of this vaccine in the elderly with use in other age groups, this vaccine is not expected to cause different side effects or problems in older people than it does in younger adults.

Other medicines—Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your health care professional if you are using any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.

Other medical problems—The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of meningococcal vaccine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

  • Severe illness with fever—The symptoms of the condition may be confused with the possible side effects of the vaccine

Proper Use of This Vaccine

Dosing—The dose of meningococcal vaccine will be different for different patients. The following information includes only the average doses of meningococcal vaccine.

  • For injection dosage form:
    • For prevention of meningococcal meningitis:
      • Adults and children—One dose injected under the skin.

Side Effects of This Vaccine

Along with its needed effects, a vaccine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Get emergency help immediately if any of the following side effects occur:

Symptoms of allergic reaction

Difficulty in breathing or swallowing; hives; itching, especially of feet or hands; reddening of skin, especially around ears; swelling of eyes, face, or inside of nose; unusual tiredness or weakness (sudden and severe)

Other side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. However, check with your doctor if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome:

More common

Redness at place of injection—may last 1 or 2 days; tenderness, soreness, or pain at place of injection

Less common

Chills; fever over 100 °F (37.8 °C); general feeling of discomfort or illness; hard lump at place of injection; headache; tiredness or weakness

Other side effects not listed above may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your doctor.

Revised: 02/02/1999

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