Vaccine Preventable Diseases
Meningococcal ACYW-135 (Men ACYW-135) Vaccine
What is Meningococcal Disease?
- Meningococcal disease is a serious illness caused by several different strains of meningococcus, bacterium also known as Neisseria meningitidis.
- The bacteria that cause this illness are commonly found in the nose and throat secretions of healthy people (i.e. mucous, saliva, cough).
- Exposure to the bacteria occurs through direct contact with saliva or sharing of oral secretions i.e. sharing drinks, utensils, toothbrushes etc.
How Meningococcal Disease Affects Your Health
- Meningococcal bacteria can cause meningitis (an infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) or meningococcemia (an infection of the blood).
- There are several different strains of the bacteria that cause disease, which are referred to as A, B, C, Y, W-135.
- Signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease include fever, drowsiness, impaired consciousness, severe headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting and a reddish skin rash that appears flat and smooth.
- Meningococcal disease can appear suddenly and cause the following complications:
- Brain damage,
- Seizures and other problems with the central nervous system,
- Amputation of one or more limbs,
- Meningococcal disease is fatal in 8-15% of all cases.
Protecting Against Meningococcal Disease through Immunization
- In Canada, there are three types of vaccines that prevent meningococcal disease:
- A conjugate vaccine that protects against meningococcal type C,
- A conjugate vaccine that protects against four strains of meningococcal: A, C, Y and W-135,
- A polysaccharide vaccine that provides short term protection against four strains of meningococcal: A, C, Y, and W-135. This vaccine is used primarily during outbreak situations.
- Currently there is no vaccine to protect against meningococcal B.
- Since the 2009-2010 school year, meningococcal ACYW-135 quadrivalent conjugate vaccine (Men ACYW-135) has been offered to grade 7 students in Ontario through in school-based clinics.
- Men ACYW-135 protects against meningococcal disease for four of the five most common strains of bacterial meningococcal disease; A, C, Y, and W-135.
- According to the vaccine manufacturer, the Men ACYW-135 vaccine is close to 100% effective in producing the antibodies needed to prevent meningococcal disease cause by strains A, C, Y and W-135
- The vaccine is safe. The most common side effects reported include: redness, soreness or swelling at the site where the needle was given. Fever, headache, tiredness and/or muscle aches are also common.
- The vaccine does not contain the virus. It contains only pieces of the virus, so you cannot be infected by the virus from the vaccine.
- The vaccine is licensed for individuals 2 to 55 years of age.
- Students who were eligible in grade 7 and have not yet received the vaccine remain eligible for a single dose of Men ACYW-135.
- Prior to the 2009-2010 school year, students in grade 7 were offered the monovalent conjugate vaccine protecting against meningococcal type C.
- Students who were born between 1986 and 1996 are still eligible for a single dose of the monovalent meningococcal C (Men C) vaccine. This vaccine only provides protection against serogroup C.
- Men C is also available for grade 7 students who do not wish to be immunized with Men ACYW-135.
- Individuals who have been in close contact with a person who has invasive meningococcal disease may be eligible to receive this vaccine for free. Health care providers should consult with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for more details.
- Individuals between the ages of 2 and 55 years with certain high risk medical conditions (e.g. people with no or poorly functioning spleens), certain immunodeficiency or cochlear implant recipients are eligible to receive the Men ACYW-135 vaccine. Ask your doctor if you have questions about whether you’re your medical condition makes you eligible for the vaccine.
The Grade 7 Meningococcal ACYW-135 Immunization Program
- Consents are sent home to all grade 7 students in the fall of each school year and parental/legal guardian permission is required for all students under 14 years of age.
- Immunization against meningococcal ACYW-135 is voluntary but is strongly recommended by Peel Public Health.
- Grade 7 students with a valid consent will be given one dose of the vaccine by registered nurses at school-based clinics.
- If your child has already received the meningococcal C vaccine, a period of one month between the Men C vaccine and the Men ACYW-135 vaccine is recommended.
- The school immunization clinic schedule is available through the school or Peel Public Health.
- If your child is not in a traditional school setting, please call Peel Public Health to discuss available options for getting the vaccine.
How to Prevent Meningococcal Disease
- Be immunized. Meningococcal disease can have a sudden onset and is potentially life threatening.
- Avoid or reduce behaviours where saliva or body fluids are exchanged to reduce the risk.
Reliable Resources on Meningococcal Disease and the Meningococcal Vaccine
For More Information Call Peel Health at: 905-799-7700.
Caledon Residents Can Call Free Of Charge at 905-584-2216.
Immunize On Time. Report Every Time.