Meningococcal Disease

When should I immunize my child to protect against meningococcal disease?

Your child is recommended to receive the immunizations that will protect him or her against meningococcal disease, at the following ages:

Dose 1 - MenconC

4 months

Dose 2 - MenconC

12 months

Dose 3 - MenC-ACYW

Grade 9

See full schedule.

Meningococcal disease quick facts:

Meningococcal disease is a deadly bacterial infection. It can cause meningococcal meningitis, an infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord, and meningococcemia, an infection of the blood.

If you don’t treat meningococcal disease right away it could lead to brain damage and death in as little as a few hours.

Meningococcal disease can be passed to your child through direct contact with the bacteria from the nose or throat of someone infected. This includes saliva, which can be shared through food, drinks, soothers, straws, water bottles and direct contact such as kissing.

What can happen to my child if he or she gets meningococcal disease?

Meningococcal disease is deadly. In fact, without immediate treatment, meningococcal disease can lead to brain damage and death in as little as a few hours.

About the immunization:

Meningococcal disease can be prevented through immunization.

The vaccines that protect your child against meningococcal disease are called meningococcal conjugate (MenconC and MenC-ACYW) vaccines. When your child gets the MenconC and MenC-ACYW vaccines, your child’s immune system will be prompted to build antibodies that protect – or “arm” – your child against meningococcal disease. 

Safety

Your child cannot get meningococcal disease, or any other diseases, from the MenconC or MenC-ACYW vaccines.

These vaccines are safe, and provide your child with protection against a disease that is not safe.

The risk that meningococcal disease poses to your child’s health is far greater than any risk related to immunizing your child against meningococcal disease. 

Learn more about General Vaccine Safety here.

Safety checks before immunization

At the appointments for your child’s MenconC vaccine, your nurse will talk to you about your child’s health history before giving your child any vaccines. This will include questions about any medicines your child is taking, health conditions your child has or is experiencing, as well as any allergies your child may have. Your nurse will guide you on what is safe for your child, based on your child’s health history.          

When your nurse talks to you about your child’s health history, it is important that you inform your nurse if your child:

  • is sick or has a fever greater than 38.5 C (101.3 F)
  • has allergies to any part of the vaccine
  • is allergic to any foods, drugs, bee stings, etc.
  • has a weakened immune system (immune compromised)
  • has had an allergic reaction (such as anaphylaxis) to this or other vaccines in the past

Your nurse will guide you on what is safe for your child, based on your child’s health history.

Your child can receive his or her MenC-ACYW vaccine through his or her in-school immunization program, in Grade 9. Before your child can be immunized at his or her school, your consent is required.  You will receive a package from your school, including information on the MenC-ACYW vaccine, and a consent form.  The consent form will ask you questions about your child's health history, including medical conditions and allergies.  It is through this form that we make sure your child can safely be immunized with the meningococcal conjugate vaccine.  Be sure to read the form and all other information provided to you, and complete the form in full.

If you have additional questions about the in-school immunization, you can dial 811 for Health Link or contact the Public Health Nurse who provides immunizations in your school at the number included in the information package.

PLEASE NOTE: Your child should NOT get the vaccine if he/she has had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to this vaccine in the past.

What might my child experience after immunization?

Reactions to the vaccine are usually mild, go away within a few days, and may include:

  • redness, swelling, and/or discomfort where the needle was given
  • headache
  • feeling tired or irritable
  • fever or chills
  • body aches
  • poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • rash

Unexpected or unusual reactions can happen after being immunized. Call Health Link at 811 to report any unusual reactions.

How can I manage my child’s symptoms after immunization?

No matter your child’s age, it is normal for him or her to experience some common, mild and temporary symptoms after immunization. 

Here are a few tips to manage these mild symptoms:

  • Fever. If you need medicine for fever or pain, check with your pharmacist or doctor. Follow the instructions on the medicine package carefully. If you are not sure whether your child’s fever is related to the immunization, dial 811 for Health Link or talk to your doctor or pharmacist, before giving your child medicine. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 19 years of age. Aspirin increases the risk of a rare but serious disease called Reye Syndrome. 
  • Swelling or redness around injection point. Put a cool moist cloth on the area for about 10 to 20 minutes. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor if you need medicine to help relieve the discomfort. Follow the instructions on the medicine package carefully.
  • Fretfulness and poor appetite. Sometimes a child may be fretful, drowsy and refuse to eat for a few hours after immunization. Plan to relax in a quiet environment at home after immunization. Hold and cuddle your child when needed, and remember to keep the temperature at a comfortable level – your child is more likely to be fretful if he or she gets too warm.
  • Headache. If you need medicine for headache, check with your pharmacist or doctor. Follow the instructions on the medicine package carefully.

Severe allergic reactions after immunization are rare, occurring at an estimated annual rate of only one to ten per one million doses of vaccine administered, and can be treated. Our nurses will ask that you stay with your child, in the immunization clinic, for at least 15 minutes after your child receives his or her immunizations. For the dose that your child receives in school, the nurse will also require your child to stay for at least 15 minutes after his or her immunization. This will allow the nurse to identify and treat any immediate allergic reaction that could occur.

If you are concerned about symptoms your child is experiencing after immunization, dial 811 for Health Link to speak to a registered nurse, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If your child is experiencing severe shortness of breath, call 911.