Each year, around 600 to 1,000 individuals in the US contract meningococcal disease; 10-15 percent of those diagnosed with meningococcal disease do not survive. For those who do, the aftermath can be life-altering, with approximately 1 in 5 individuals left with permanent disabilities (e.g., brain damage, hearing loss, loss of kidney function, limb amputations). Notably, 21 percent of all meningococcal disease cases strike preteens, teens, and young adults aged 11 to 24. Therefore, it is essential to be informed about which meningitis vaccines your adolescent needs and when they need them so that they can be protected.
Meningitis vaccine dosing can be confusing since there are two different vaccines that target different serogroups or types of meningococcal bacteria. Also, a new vaccine was approved in 2023 which combines the two existing vaccines. In this blog post, we will clarify the difference in the vaccines, explain dosing schedules, provide new guidance and emphasize why it is essential to get all recommended meningococcal vaccines.
Dosing Schedule for MenACWY and MenB
The main culprits behind meningococcal disease are N. meningitidis serogroups or types A, B, C, W and Y. For the prevention of serogroups A, C, W, and Y, the MenACWY vaccine is recommended. The MenACWY vaccine is typically administered in two doses. The first dose is commonly given around the age of 11 or 12, with a booster shot recommended at age 16. This vaccine is essential, especially for adolescents and young adults, as they are at higher risk for meningococcal infections. 1 in 5 U.S. teens remain unprotected having not received their crucial first dose of the meningococcal vaccination targeting serogroups A, C, W, and Y.
Another key component of Meningitis prevention is the MenB vaccine. This 2-dose vaccine series targets group B, which is responsible for a significant portion of meningococcal cases. The MenB vaccine should be administered preferably between 16 and 23 years old. Many teens have yet to receive the meningococcal group B vaccine. Its uptake remains low as only 31.4% had received more than 1 MenB dose in 2021.
Together these two vaccines play a key role in preventing meningococcal disease. In October 2023, the FDA approved a new vaccine that combines these two vaccines into one, making it easier to get protection with fewer visits to the doctor.
The Pentavalent Vaccine: MenABCWY
This innovative vaccine provides protection against all five major serogroups (A, C, W, Y, and B), offering a comprehensive defense against a broad spectrum of meningococcal strains. The pentavalent MenABCWY vaccine simplifies the vaccination process by combining multiple components into a single shot, making getting protected easier and more convenient. The CDC recommends MenABCWY vaccination as an option for individuals 10 years or older who are getting MenACWY and MenB vaccines at the same visit. We encourage you to speak with your provider about your options.
FAQs About MenABCWY
My adolescent received the first dose of the MenACWY vaccine, but not the second. Can they get the MenABCWY vaccine as the second dose?
Yes, it’s possible that your adolescent is due for the MenACWY booster dose and the first MenB dose at age 16. If so, they can get one dose of MenABCWY vaccine instead. Note that for protection against serogroup B, a second dose of the MenB vaccine is still required.
Can my adolescent get both MenACWY and MenB vaccines at the same time?
Yes, they can! Again, since the preferred timing for the MenB vaccine is 16 through 18 years old, it’s possible that your adolescent will need that vaccine and the MenACWY booster dose at the same visit. They may receive the two vaccines in the same visit or they may get one dose of MenABCWY vaccine instead.
Does my adolescent still need a MenB booster is they get the MenABCWY vaccine?
Yes. That said, it’s important to make sure that your adolescent gets the same vaccine brand for all doses of MenB vaccine. If your child receives MenABCWY vaccine, which includes the MenB vaccine Trumenba®, then they need to get Trumenba® for their second MenB dose.
My adolescent has not received any of the meningitis vaccines, what should I do?
If your adolescent is 16 years old or older, they might be a good candidate for the MenABCWY vaccine. If they are younger, we encourage you to speak with your provider about your options.
All in all, meningitis vaccination, with its updated dosing schedules and the development of the pentavalent vaccine, plays a pivotal role in your adolescents’ and young adults’ well-being. Stay informed, consult with healthcare professionals, and don’t forget the broader picture – getting all recommended vaccines is key to a healthier, more resilient future for everyone.