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revised August 14, 2012

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is meningococcal disease?
Meningococcal disease is a serious illness caused by several different strains of the bacteria Neisseria meningitidis. The 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 this bacteria that cause disease.

How is it spread?
The bacteria which may cause this illness is 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.

What are the signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease?
Signs and symptoms may include the following:

  • fever,
  • drowsiness,
  • impaired consciousness,
  • severe headache,
  • stiff neck,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • and reddish skin rash that appaers flat and smooth.  

What vaccines are available to grade 7 students to prevent meningococcal disease?

  • 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 a voluntary school-based immunization program.
  • 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
  • Students who were eligible in grade 7 and have not yet received the vaccine remain eligible for a single dose of Men ACYW-135.
  • Students who were born between 1986 and 1996 are 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.

Who is able to receive the voluntary meningococcal ACYW-135 vaccine for free?

  • The Men-C-ACYW-135 vaccine is only publicly funded for grade 7 students beginning in the 2009-2010 school year and forward.
  • Unimmunized students who were previously eligible to receive the monovalent meningococcal vaccine (Men-C) remain eligible to receive the Men-C vaccine from their health care provider, but they are not eligible for the new quadrivalent vaccine.
  • 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) or deficiencies of complement, properdin or factor or cochlear implant recipients (pre-post implant) 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.

Where/when are the school clinics taking place?

  • Peel Public Health school based immunization clinics will be held during the school year in all Region of Peel schools where there are grade 7 students (12 year olds).

What are possible side effects of getting the meningococcal vaccine?

  • The vaccine is very safe.
  • Before the vaccine is given, a nurse will screen each student to ensure that they can safely receive the vaccine.

Local reactions may include:

  • redness, soreness or swelling at the site where the needle was given
  • fever, headache, tiredness and/or muscle aches are also possible effects

Severe reactions are very rare and may include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of the face or mouth
  • hives
  • fever over 39°Cback to top

Report any serious reactions to your doctor and Peel Public Health at 905-799-7700.

What is Peel Public Health’s role?

  • Peel Public Health is working in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care to safely administer the vaccine to eligible students. Peel Public Health is coordinating all the school-based immunization clinics held within the Region of Peel.
  • Nurses who work for Peel Public Health will be administering the vaccine at schools.
  • Any questions that you have about meningococcal disease, school-based immunization clinics or meningococcal vaccines can be answered by calling Peel Public Health at 905-799-7700.

What do parents need to do to get their child(ren) vaccinated?

  • A consent form will be provided to eligible students through their school.
  • If students are under 14 years of age, parents/legal guardians need to sign the consent form.
  • Students 14 years of age and older may sign their own consent.
  • Consent forms must be completed and returned to the school.

On the day of the immunization clinic:

  • Advise your child to wear a short sleeved or loose fitting shirt.
  • Ensure that your child eats breakfast on the day of the clinic.
  • Only one dose is required for individuals two years of age or older
  • A translator will be used when necessary, it may be a student or staff member at the school.
NOTE: If your child has received or if you are planning to immunize your child with the Men C vaccine, a period of one month between the Men C vaccine and the Men ACYW-135 vaccine is recommended.

Men ACYW-135 polysaccharide and Act-HIB conjugate vaccines are different from this vaccine.

If at least 6 months have passed since you received the Men ACYW-135 polysaccharide vaccine, it is safe and advisable to receive this Men ACYW-135 conjugate vaccine

Where can I get more information about meningococcal disease?
The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care has additional Immunization Fact Sheets.

Is information available in different languages?
For meningitis information in other languages, please visit Translated Materials.

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Revised: August 14, 2012

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