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Neisseria meningitidis bacteria gram stain

Meningococcal Disease

What is it?

Meningococcal disease is caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis. 

Meningococcal disease can cause meningitis (swelling of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) and septicemia (a bacterial infection in the bloodstream).

Common symptoms of meningitis include fever, headache, and a stiff neck. Septicemia often causes symptoms such as fever, chills, muscle aches, and, in later stages, a dark purple rash.

There are three types of vaccination for meningococcal:

One type protects against serogroups A, C, W, and Y

Another type protects against serogroup B

The third type is a pentavalent vaccine, which means it protects against all 5 serogroups.

Meningococcal ACWY Options:

Meningococcal B Options:

Pentavalent (ABCWY) Options:

What's the difference between them?

For meningococcal ACWY, one dose at 11-12 years old and a booster at age 16 is recommended 


Meningococcal B is not a required vaccination. It is recommended if you have certain conditions or are high risk, but you can also choose to get vaccinated even if you are not in those categories. If you have questions or are interested in receiving this vaccine, please talk to your doctor. 


For the menigococcal B vaccine, the doses depend on which vaccine you receive.

Bexsero is always a 2-dose series.

Trumenba is 2 doses if you are not high risk and 3 doses if you are high risk.

If you are high risk, the vaccine is recommended for people age 10 or older.

It is recommended for age 16-18 for people who are not high-risk.

Penbraya is approved for ages 10-25, and is a 2-dose series (doses 6 months apart).

Bexsero also provides some protection against gonorrhea because one of the active ingredients is outer membrane vesicles (OMVs), which contain surface antigens that are similar to proteins found on the surface of Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which causes gonorrhea.

For more information about meningococcal vaccination, click here

Relevant Terms

  • Bacteria: A type of single-celled organism. Some can cause disease, but many are harmless and some actually benefit humans by living in the intestines and helping with digestion 

  • Bacterium: The singular of bacteria (one bacterium, two bacteria)

  • Meningitis: inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord

  • Paralysis: the inability to voluntarily move a muscle

  • Septicemia: a dangerous and sometimes deadly bacterial infection in the bloodstream

  • Serotype/serogroup: a group of strains within a species that share a particular type of surface structure.

  • Strain: Within a particular species there can be a lot of genetic diversity. A strain refers to one member of that species. 

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