Vaccines with the brand names Bexsero and Trumenba are available to protect against “Meningococcus B” (MenB), which can cause the very serious infection meningitis. However, the vaccine is not universally recommended for everyone. Instead, it’s a vaccine that “may” be given during high school or college, after weighing the potential risks and benefits. At our practice, based on the most recent research, we do believe receiving this vaccine is a good idea for our teens, and especially for those bound for college.
We will offer MenB vaccination at the 16 year well check. One booster dose is needed, which can be given one month or more later. For convenience, we’ll plan for most teens to get the booster at their 17 year well visit.
Why are there two kinds of meningococcal vaccine, and what’s the difference?
All children, starting at age 11, are recommended to get a broader meningococcal vaccine, one that protects against the other strains that circulate. However, these vaccines do not include the “B” strain – to cover that, a separate, different vaccine is needed.
How common is MenB disease?
It is rare. In the US, there are probably about 200 cases per year in people of all ages. Among people aged 16-24 (the age at which the meningitis B vaccine is typically used), there are probably about 60 cases per year. College students are at about triple the risk of the general population.
How well does this vaccine work? How long does protection last?
Because MenB disease is so rare, there have not been clinical studies to show effectiveness. Estimates of effectiveness are based on blood tests of immunity. It is estimated that after a full series between 63-94% of recipients will be protected, and that protection may last 24-48 months.
What adverse events are expected after receiving MenB?
In clinical trials the most common adverse events within 7 days of receiving MenB were injection site pain, swelling, or redness (80%%–90% of recipients). Up to 30% of recipients considered the pain to be severe. Other reported symptoms included fatigue (35%–40%), headache (33%%–35%), and myalgia (30%%–49%). In general adverse events were more frequent with the first dose than with subsequent doses.
Are there people who should definitely get this vaccine?
Yes. People with certain immune conditions are at elevated risk. It should also be given to people exposed during a known outbreak.