Meningococcal disease refers to any illness caused by bacteria called Neisseria meningitidis, also known as meningococcus [muh-ning-goh-KOK-us]. These illnesses are often severe and can be deadly. They include infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream infections (bacteremia or septicemia).
These bacteria spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions like spit (e.g., by living in close quarters, kissing). Doctors treat meningococcal disease with antibiotics, but quick medical attention is extremely important. Keeping up to date with recommended vaccines is the best defense against meningococcal disease.
There are 2 types of meningococcal vaccines available in the United States:
All 11 to 12 year olds should get a meningococcal conjugate vaccine, with a booster dose at 16 years old. Teens and young adults (16 through 23 year olds) also may get a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine. CDC also recommends meningococcal vaccination for other children and adults who are at increased risk for meningococcal disease.
Talk with your or your child’s clinician if you have questions about meningococcal vaccines.
Read more at CDC.gov