It is an airborne disease caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis, which causes inflammation of the membranes surrounding the central nervous system, with symptoms that include headache, fatigue, fever and photosensitivity.
Meningitis is, despite all efforts, one of the diseases with the highest morbidity (frequency of the disease in a community) and mortality in the world. The vaccine is the best tool to avoid infection and control its spread.
Two types of vaccine are used in Italy. The monovalent vaccine for meningococcal disease group C is 1 dose. The tetravalent vaccine for groups A, C, W and Y includes 1 dose from age one.
Vaccines are composed of capsular polysaccharides (the molecules that make up the outer structure of the bacterium), administered intramuscularly.
Method of administration
It is administered intramuscularly.
The monovalent vaccine includes 2 doses at least 2 months apart for children aged between 2 months and 1 year. The tetravalent vaccine includes a booster between the ages of 12 and 18 years for individuals who were vaccinated in childhood.
Side effects and contraindications
The most frequently reported adverse reactions are pain, redness and induration at the injection site, malaise, fever, headache, irritability and gastrointestinal symptoms.
Vaccine administration must be postponed in individuals with acute febrile infections. Contraindications to the meningococcal vaccine are hypersensitivity to any of the active ingredients or any of the excipients.
A careful risk-benefit assessment by a medical specialist is necessary when considering the vaccination of pregnant or breastfeeding women.