Meningococcal disease spreads by direct contact with infected persons by coughing, kissing, or sharing anything by mouth, such as water bottles, eating utensils, lipsticks, or toothbrushes. It can cause pneumonia, bloodstream infection, and meningitis (swelling of the covering of the brain and spinal cord). Severe disease can cause brain damage, loss of hearing or limbs, and death. Fortunately, this life-threatening infection is rare – we usually have only about 30-60 reported each year in Washington, including 1 to 8 deaths. Adolescents and young adults are more likely to get meningococcal disease, especially if they live in group settings, like college dorms.
Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine (MCV4)
MCV4 protects your child against the most common types of bacteria that cause meningococcal disease. Patients younger than 19 years of age can get HPV vaccine for free in Washington State. Some health care providers’ offices charge an administration fee or an office visit fee. You can ask to waive the administration fee if you can’t pay. Healthy teens should get one dose of MCV4 at age 11 through 12 years. Teens who did not get their first dose at that time should get a dose as soon as possible. A second dose (or booster) is now recommended. Teens should get a booster at age 16 through 18 years or any time before college. Talk to your healthcare provider about this vaccine.
To learn more about meningococcal disease and how to prevent it, please click the links below.