Meningococcal disease is a bacterial infection that causes meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain), septicemia (blood infection), and other infections (joint, ear, etc.). This disease has a very rapid onset and people can become deathly ill in less than 24 hours. Death occurs in 10-40% of cases and other consequences are deafness, brain damage, and amputations. The vaccines that protect against meningococcal disease do not provide long term immunity. The disease has such a short incubation period that circulating antibodies are required for protection. We cannot rely on immune memory as we can for diseases such as hepatitis A & B that have a long incubation period. Long incubation periods give the immune system time to produce protective antibodies. Meningococcal vaccines should be boosted every 3-5 years if risk continues.
There are 5 sero-groups of the meningococcal bacteria that cause illness in North America: groups A, B, C, Y, and W-135.
Conjugate C Vaccine
(Menjugate, Meningitec, Neis Vac-C) Free – Children in BC
In Canada, during the 2000’s we had epidemics of group C disease. As a result every child in B.C. is given free meningococcal conjugate group C vaccine at 2 mos, 12 mos, and grade 6.
Conjugate A, C, Y, W-135 Vaccine
(Menactra, Menveo, Nimenrix) $130.00/dose
As group C disease decreases due to vaccination, other groups such as group Y have become more prominent. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends that all Canadian adolescents receive a dose of meningococcal conjugate vaccine around the age of 12 years. Ideally, this would be a vaccine containing A, C, Y, W-135. This vaccine is highly recommended for all college and university students up to 24 years.
Saudi Arabia and certain African countries have a high incidence of groups A and W-135 so the conjugate A,C,Y, W-135 is required or recommended for travellers to these areas.
Meningococcal Group B Vaccine
Meningococcal group B accounts for between 1/3 to 2/3 of the cases of invasive meningococcal disease depending on where you live. In BC, group B accounts for more than1/3 of the cases of meningococcal disease. In Canada, 80% of cases occur in infants under 1 year. The high risk groups for meningococcal group B disease are 0-1, 1-4 and 15-24 years. There have been outbreaks of this disease in U.S. universities. Group B meningococcal disease is different from A, C, Y, W-135 in that there are 8000 strains of the group B organism that can cause disease. It is felt that Bexsero will protect against at least 2/3 of the group B meningococcal strains that occur in Canada.
2-4 doses of vaccine are needed for protection depending on the age at which vaccination is started. When starting at 11 years or older, 2 doses are needed at least 1 month apart.
Meningococcal group B vaccine is highly recommended for infants between 0-1 years as well as students attending U.S. universities.
Contact us at 604-736-9244 (before 5pm daily) if you are interested or have questions about the meningitis vaccine(s).
If you are travelling, call us to book your appointment. We are fully staffed to get your assessment, prescriptions, and vaccinations covered all in one visit.