Meningitis ACWY

Meningitis ACWY


Meningitis ACWY Vaccine Information Sheet (VIS)


What is Meningitis?

Meningococcal disease, which is considered to be a life threatening  bacterial illness, is the top cause of bacterial meningitis in children between the ages of 2 and 18 in the U.S.  Meningitis can also lead to blood stream infections that then can damage other vital organs.

Anyone can be affected by this disease; however, it is more present in babies and children, teens and young adults and older adults. Meningitis can also affect healthy individuals of any age who are traveling to certain high risk areas of the world.

Who needs the Meningitis vaccination?

Certain people are at increased risk for bacterial meningitis. Some risk factors include:

  1. Age
    • Babies are at increased risk for bacterial meningitis compared to people in other age groups. However, people of any age can develop bacterial meningitis. See section above for which bacteria more commonly affect which age groups.
  2. Community setting
    • Infectious diseases tend to spread where large groups of people gather together. College campuses have reported outbreaks of meningococcal disease, caused by N. meningitidis.
  3. Certain medical conditions
    • There are certain medical conditions, medications, and surgical procedures that put people at increased risk for meningitis.
  4. Working with meningitis-causing pathogens
    • Microbiologists routinely exposed to meningitis-causing bacteria are at increased risk for meningitis.
  5. Travel
    • Travelers may be at increased risk for meningococcal disease caused by N. meningitidis, if they travel to certain places, such as:
      • The meningitis belt in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly during the dry season
      • Mecca during the annual Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage

Signs and Symptoms

Meningitis symptoms include sudden onset of fever, headache, and stiff neck. There are often other symptoms, such as

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Photophobia (increased sensitivity to light)
  • Altered mental status (confusion)

In newborns and babies, the meningitis symptoms of fever, headache, and neck stiffness may be absent or difficult to notice. The baby may be irritable, vomit, feed poorly, or appear to be slow or inactive. In young babies, doctors may also look for a bulging fontanelle (soft spot on infant’s head) or abnormal reflexes.

Symptoms of bacterial meningitis can appear quickly or over several days. Typically they develop within 3 to 7 days after exposure

Later symptoms of bacterial meningitis can be very serious (e.g., seizures, coma). For this reason, anyone who thinks they may have meningitis should see a doctor as soon as possible.


The most effective way to protect you and your child against  bacterial meningitis is to get vaccinated.

Risks of a Meningococcal vaccine reaction

With any medicine, including vaccines, there is a chance of side effects. These are usually mild and go away on their own within a few days, but serious reactions are also possible.

As many as half of the people who get meningococcal ACWY vaccine have mild problems following vaccination, such as redness or soreness where the shot was given. If these problems occur, they usually last for 1 or 2 days.

As with any medicine, there is a very remote chance of a vaccine causing a serious side effect or injury.


How can I learn more about the Meningitis vaccine?

Call the Kansas City Travel and Immunization Clinic today at (913) 469-0011 and one of our knowledgeable staff will be able to assist you.