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Recognize the increased risk of meningococcal disease in your adolescent patients.

Make sure your adolescent patients (including those who are not college-bound) are fully vaccinated against meningococcal disease.

Give the first dose of MCV4 at 11–12 years of age and the second dose at 16 years of age.


Make meningococcal disease prevention part of your anticipatory guidance for adolescent and young adult patients.

Talking points:
   Meningococcal disease is rare but can be deadly for young people your age.
   You are at increased risk from your mid-to-late teens into your early twenties.
   Disease comes on suddenly, without warning, and can quickly become life-threatening.
   Meningococcal vaccine is safe and effective.
   2 doses are recommended for adolescents your age.

Your strong recommendation for MCV4 will make a difference.



   Establish office protocols (eg., screening tools) for identifying adolescents who need to be vaccinated.
   Make use of helpful management tools (reminder-recall systems, standing orders, immunization registries, electronic health record prompts) to track and improve your vaccination coverage.
   Don’t miss opportunities! Train your staff to help identify teens who need vaccination.


Meningococcal disease, though rare, can cripple or kill, often without warning.

Unpredictable – most cases occur at random, not in outbreaks; transmitted in crowded settings
Sudden onset – difficult to diagnose; mimics symptoms of common illnesses
Rapidly progresses – can lead to shock, coma, and death within 24 hours
Even with proper treatment of those who are infected, 10%–15% die
11%–19% of survivors suffer lifelong disability (hearing loss, amputation of arms or legs, or brain damage)

...but especially adolescents and young adults.

16–21 years of age: At highest risk among people older than 1 year of age

Safe and effective meningococcal vaccines are available and recommended

Not 1 shot but 2: First dose of MCV4a at 11–12 years of age (recommended since 2005)
AND a second dose at 16 years of age (recommended since 2010)

Opportunities to Give MCV4 are frequently missed when adolescents are already in the office

Missed Opportunities for Administering MCV4 #1 in Age-Eligible Patients (November 2006–June 2011)1

  • Unfortunately, 86% of patients who were in the office for a “vaccine-only” visit did not receive the first dose of MCV4 along with other recommended vaccines.
  • Timely vaccination remains a challenge in meningococcal disease prevention. More than 70% of those eligible for the second dose at 16 years of age had not received it by 17 years of age.2



a. MCV4 (Meningococcal conjugate vaccine 4-valent or Meningococcal ACWY vaccine) helps protect against meningococcal disease resulting from infection with serogroups A, C, W, or Y.

b. The minimum interval between doses of MCV4 is 8 weeks. Thus, it is possible to give the first dose at 15 and the second dose at 16 years of age, as long as the minimum 8-week interval between doses is observed.

c. Routine MCV4 vaccination of healthy persons who are not at increased risk for exposure to Neisseria meningitidis is not recommended after 21 years of age.


1. Wong CA. Taylor JA, Wright JA, et al. Missed opportunities for adolescent vaccination, 2006-2011. J Adolesc Health. 2013;53(4):492-497.

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National, regional, state, and selected local area vaccination coverage among adolescents aged 13-17 years—United States, 2013. MMWR. 2014;63(29):625-633.

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