Meningococcal disease is a rare but severe infection caused by a bacteria.
What is meningococcal disease?
Meningococcal diseases are caused by a bacteria called meningococcus. Although meningococcal disease is rare, the bacteria that cause this disease can be found in the nose and throat of 5 to 10 out of 100 people at any time. However, less than 1 out of 100 of those infected with the bacteria will develop invasive meningococcal disease.
How is meningococcal disease spread?
Meningococcal disease can be spread through coughing, sneezing or close face-to-face contact. It can also be spread through activities that share saliva such as kissing, sharing of food, drinks, cigarettes, lipstick, water bottles, etc.
What are the symptoms of meningococcal disease?
Symptoms of meningococcal infection can include:
- Intense headache
- Stiff neck (stiff back in older children and adults)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to light
- Pin point rash
- Bulging fontanelle in an infant’s skull
What are the risks of meningococcal disease?
Meningococcal infections are serious and life threatening. They can include meningitis, an infection of the lining that covers the brain and septicemia, an infection of the blood. It can also cause pneumonia (infection of the lung). For every 100 people who get sick, 15 will die even if they receive treatment. Permanent complications include brain damage, deafness and loss of limbs.
How do you prevent meningococcal disease?
The best way to not get meningococcal disease is to get immunized. Meningococcal vaccines are safe. It is much safer to get the vaccine than to get meningococcal disease. When you get immunized you help to protect others as well.
Who should get the meningococcal vaccine?
There are two publicly funded (free) meningococcal vaccines offered in B.C. These vaccines protect against different types of meningococcal bacteria.
- Meningococcal C Vaccine (Men C): The Men C vaccine protects against meningococcal bacteria, type ‘C’. It is given free (publicly funded) as part of the B.C. routine immunization schedule. The Men C vaccine is also recommended for other age groups and for people with certain medical conditions. Find out if you are eligible for a free Men C vaccine.
- Meningococcal A/C/Y/W (Meningococcal Quadrivalent): The Meningococcal Quadrivalent vaccine protects against infections from the four most common types of meningococcal bacteria A, C, Y and W. This quadrivalent vaccine is given free to all B.C. grade 9 students by public health nurses in the school setting. The Meningococcal Quadrivalent vaccine is also recommended for people with certain medical conditions. Find out if you are eligible for a free Meningococcal Quadrivalent vaccine.
Get immunized against meningococcal disease by making an appointment with your doctor, pharmacist (for those 5 years and older) or Public Health.
To book an immunization appointment with Public Health:
Residents of Fraser East (Mission, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Agassiz and Hope), call 604-702-4906 or 604-702-4840
Residents in any other area of Fraser Health, call 604-476-7087
Hours of operation: Monday to Friday (8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.)
Note: When making an appointment with Public Health, you will be offered a text message reminder through the ImmunizeBC text message reminder system.
For more information about meningococcal disease and the meningococcal vaccine, go to:
- Immunize Canada: Diseases and vaccines
Learn more about diseases that can be prevented by routine immunizations.
- ImmunizeBC: Meningococcal disease
Information on the meningococcal disease and vaccination.
- HealthLink BC: Meningococcal C conjugate (Men-C) vaccine
Information about the Men-C vaccine. Available in English, Chinese, Farsi, French, Korean, Punjabi, Spanish and Vietnamese.
- HealthLink BC: Meningococcal quadrivalent vaccines
Information about the meningococcal quadrivalent vaccines. Available in English, Chinese, Farsi, French, Korean, Punjabi, Spanish and Vietnamese.
- Caring for Kids: Meningococcal vaccine
Information for parents from Canada’s paediatricians