Per Wikipedia:  “Neisseria meningitidis, often referred to as meningococcus, is a Gram-negative bacterium that can cause meningitis and other forms of meningococcal disease such as meningococcemia, a life-threatening sepsis. It has also been reported to be transmitted through oral sex and cause urethritis in men. The bacterium is referred to as a coccus because it is round, and more specifically, diplococcus because of its tendency to form pairs. About 10% of adults are carriers of the bacteria in their nasopharynx. As an exclusively human pathogen it is the main cause of bacterial meningitis in children and young adults, causing developmental impairment and death in about 10% of cases. It causes the only form of bacterial meningitis known to occur epidemically, mainly Africa and Asia. It occurs worldwide in both epidemic and endemic form. N. meningitidis is spread through saliva and respiratory secretions during coughing, sneezing, kissing, chewing on toys and even through sharing a source of fresh water. It infects its host cells by sticking to them with long thin extensions called pili and the surface-exposed proteins Opa and Opc and has several virulence factors.

“Meningococcal vaccine refers to any of the vaccines used to prevent infection by Neisseria meningitidis. Different versions are effective against some or all of the following types of meningococcus: A, C, W-135, and Y. The vaccines are between 85 and 100% effective for at least two years. They result in a decrease in meningitis and sepsis among populations where they are widely used. They are given either by injection into a muscle or just under the skin.”

In the US, the CDC reports rates of infection with meningococcus are under 1 in 100,000 individuals.  Of those infected, approximately 10-15% of cases are fatal.

Vaccine Statistics

When debating informed consent, it is important that people calculate the risk versus the reward for all options.  Here are some facts, according to VAERS and the CDC.

  • Since 2000, there have been fewer than 280 deaths from meningococcus in the US, with most cases being reported in infants under one year of age and college age adolescents and adults.
  • Since 2000, there have been at least 56 deaths reported to VAERS associated with the meningococcus vaccine.
  • Since 2000, there have been 23,821 adverse events reported to VAERS.

The overall risk of death from meningococcal infection is approximately 1 in 1.15 million in the US.  This is undoubtedly greater than the risk from the vaccine if VAERS statistics are used at face value.  If the FDA’s assessment of reporting compliance is correct (<1%), the risks of vaccinating versus refusing the vaccine are equivalent in infants and young adults, and dramatically higher in children and adults.  The problem with this calculation, however, is that we simply do not know the true number of deaths attributable to the meningococcal vaccine due to our faulty reporting system.  Other statistics reported to VAERS since 2000:

  • 291 immediately life threatening complications
  • 227 permanent disabilities
  • 1145 hospitalizations or extensions of hospitalization
  • 6927 emergency room or office visits related to complications

Vaccine Safety

Vaccine Typepeptide antigen/fully immune

Pregnancy ClassC

This section will reference the product insert for Menveo courtesy of the FDA.  The meningococcal vaccine can contain high levels of aluminum adjuvants, though not all do.

Contraindications (do not administer):

  • Allergy or sensitivity to any ingredient in the meningococcal vaccine, or any diphtheria toxoid vaccine
  • Immunosuppressed (such as through steroids) or immunocompromised

Adverse Events (as reported by the manufacturer):

  •  Syncope, Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), apnea, injection site pain/swelling/induration, irritability, somnolence, persistent crying >3 hours (encephalitis) (21-41%), change in eating habits, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, fever, headache, arthralgia, malaise, chills, nausea, myalgia, impaired hearing, ear pain, vertigo, vestibular disorder, eyelid ptosis, anaphylaxis, cellulitis, increased alanine aminotransferase, bone pain, tonic convulsion, facial paresis, balance disorder, oropharyngeal pain, skin exfoliation
One finding was significant enough to quote:  “Serious adverse events in subjects receiving a 4-dose series of MENVEO at 2, 4, 6, and 12 months were evaluated in 3 randomized multicenter clinical studies.  In the 2 controlled studies, the proportions of infants randomized to receive the 4-dose series of MENVEO concomitantly with routine vaccinations and infants who received routine vaccinations alone that reported serious adverse events during different study periods were, respectively: a) 2.7% and 2.2%, during the infant series; b) 2.5% and 2.5%, between the infant series and the toddler dose; c) 0.3% and 0.3%, in the 1 month following the toddler dose; and d) 1.6% and 2.2%, during the 6-month follow-up period after the last dose. In the third study, 1 which was controlled up to the toddler dose, the proportions of infants randomized to dosing regimens that included receiving 4 doses of MENVEO concomitantly with routine vaccinations at 2, 4, 6, and 12 months and infants who received routine vaccinations alone that reported serious adverse events during different study periods were, respectively: a) 3.5% and 3.6%, during the infant series; and b) 2.8% and 3.3%, between the infant series and the toddler dose; and c) 0.5% and 0.7%, in the 1 month following the toddler dose. In the same study, 1.9% of infants randomized to receive the 4-dose series of MENVEO concomitantly with routine vaccinations reported serious adverse events during the 6-month follow-up period after the toddler dose. The most common serious adverse events reported in these 3 studies were wheezing, pneumonia, gastroenteritis, and convulsions, and most occurred at highest frequency after the infant series.”

For a disease that affects under 1 in 100,000 infants, a serious adverse event rate of >3% (1 in 30) is unacceptable, particularly when one considers that persistent crying for >3 hours (the hallmark of encephalitis in infants) has a demonstrated rate of 21-41%, and this wasn’t considered a “serious adverse event” for purposes of the studies detailed above.

Scientific Studies

Editor’s Opinion

With under a 1 in 100,000 risk of infection, and under a 1 in 1,000,000 risk of death, the risks of the vaccine appear to be greater than the risks of the disease.  To put this into perspective, you have an order of magnitude greater chance of being struck by lightning in any given year than dying of bacterial meningitis that could be prevented by this vaccine.  In college students, a case can be argued that the vaccine’s potential benefits are greater than the risk due to a low incidence of adverse events in that age group when contrasted with the risk of living in extremely close quarters with others.  For those traveling to the African meningitis belt where the risk of meningitis is over 10-100 times that of the US, it would be appropriate for all individuals to be vaccinated.  In all other cases, we do not recommend administering this vaccine to anyone.