How effective is the meningitis vaccine?
Menactra® provides protection against four types of meningococcal bacteria including types A, C, Y, W-135. The vaccine is almost 100% effective against meningitis. Studies show good protection for up to 5 years after vaccination. There’s no risk of getting a meningitis infection from the vaccine.
Meningitis vaccination is the best way to protect your child from meningitis infection.
Who should get the meningitis vaccine?
People between 2 and 55 years old can have the meningitis vaccine. The provincial government funds the required meningitis vaccination for all Grade 7 students in Ontario. This means that all students starting Grade 7 can get the vaccine free from the Health Unit. The goal of the program is to vaccinate students against meningitis bacteria while their risk of getting the bacteria is low.
Note: The meningitis C vaccine (Menjugate°/NeisVac-C®), the meningitis B vaccine (Bexsero), and the meningitis ACYW polysaccharide vaccine (Menomune) doesn’t provide the same protection as Menactra.
How is the publicly funded (free) meningitis vaccine program delivered in my child’s school?
Public health nurses will give students one injection during the school year (usually in the winter). For the exact date, please contact your child’s school. The nurse may delay giving the vaccine to anyone who has a fever or any other illness more serious than a minor cold.
On the day your child gets vaccinated:
- Have him/her wear a short sleeve shirt to make vaccination easier.
- Have him/her eat a good breakfast or lunch before the clinic
Who should not get the meningitis vaccine?
Your child should wait to get the meningitis vaccine if they have had:
- Meningococcal types A, C, Y, W-135 shot within the past three years.
- A vaccination within the last six months with a meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine (Menomune).
- Menjugate or NeisVac C vaccine within the last month.
Your child should not get the meningitis vaccine if they had a:
- Serious reaction to a meningitis vaccine.
- Previous neurological disease called Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).
Check with your health care provider if your child had an allergic reaction to another vaccine, or diphtheria toxoid. The risk of serious illness from meningitis bacteria is much greater than the risk of complications from the meningitis vaccine.
Are there side effects from the vaccine?
The vaccine, used since 2005, may cause minor side effects that can last a day or more, such as:
- Redness, warmth, or slight swelling at the site of injection
- Slight fever
Serious reactions are rare. These reactions may include: trouble breathing, swelling of face or mouth, fever over 39°C, hives, or a rash. If these occur within 15 days of injection, report them to your health care provider or local Health Unit.
What if my child misses the meningitis shot at school?
The Health Unit provides meningitis vaccine clinics at most school sites once during the school year. You can book an appointment to get your child's vaccine at the Health Unit should they miss it at school.
Can my child get the meningitis shot at the family doctor’s?
Publicly-funded (free) Menactra vaccine is only available through the Health Unit. You must pay for the vaccine if your child gets it at your family doctor or a walk-in clinic.
For more information, you can contact the Health Unit at 258-2146 ext. 1222.