Knowing when to give or get a vaccine doesn’t usually cause any confusion.
You simply have to check the immunization schedule.
Take the meningococcal vaccines, for example. Most parents and pediatricians understand that kids get them before entering middle school and again before going off to college. And some high risk kids should get them even earlier, as infants.
At What Age Should Kids Get a Meningococcal Vaccine?
Actually, there are some things that make it a little more complicated than it should be…
- some overnight and summer camps are actually starting to require a dose of meningococcal vaccine for younger kids, even though this is not a formal recommendation of the CDC or AAP
- some parents might request a dose of meningococcal vaccine for younger kids going to overnight and summer camps, even though this is not a formal recommendation of the CDC or AAP
- some folks are misunderstanding recommendations that campers be up-to-date on all immunizations as a recommendation that they get an early meningococcal vaccine
- getting an early dose, before age 10 years won’t count as the middle school dose, and will need to be repeated
- some states have very strict laws on timing, like that kids have to get their meningococcal vaccine before starting 6th grade, but only after they turn 11 years old, which creates a problem for those kids who start 6th grade before they are 11 years old
- many folks don’t understand the recommendations for the MenB vaccines
What’s the answer?
It is not to skip or delay your child’s meningococcal vaccine, of course.
Instead, states should likely institute their meningococcal vaccine laws to require a dose before entering 7th grade, that way, most will have plenty of time to get it while they are in 6th grade. Or at least keep to the standard minimum age of 10 years for a dose to count towards middle school requirements.
What about a meningococcal vaccine for campers?
“In New York State, PHL Article 21, Title 6, Section 2167 also requires the notification of campers and parents about recommendations for and the availability of meningococcal vaccine for all campers attending overnight camps for a period of 7 or more consecutive nights. Meningococcal ACWY (MenACWY) vaccine is recommended at age 11 or 12 years, with a booster dose at age 16 years. Please note that the NYSDOH does not recommend that campers receive either dose of MenACWY vaccine before the recommended ages. Students who are vaccinated before the recommended ages may need to have the doses repeated in order to attend school.”
Recommended Immunizations for Campers
Unless they are in a high risk group, folks should likely stick to the standard ages of the immunization schedule to get their kids vaccinated.
And keep in mind that if your child does get an early dose, it won’t count as part of the routine series and will have to be repeated.
“Doses of quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine (either MPSV4 or MenACWY) given before 10 years of age should not be counted as part of the routine 2-dose series. If a child received a dose of either MPSV4 or MenACWY before age 10 years, they should receive a dose of MenACWY at 11 or 12 years and a booster dose at age 16 years.”
Ask the Experts Meningococcal ACWY
Talk to your pediatrician about an early dose if the extra coverage is important to you though. It will protect your child, but isn’t a general recommendation because younger kids have a lower risk for disease and vaccinating everyone likely wouldn’t impact disease rates that much.
Another situation in which getting an extra dose may be required is if you are traveling to a high risk part of the world. In this case, the extra dose is essential, even if it has to be repeated later.
More on Ages to Give Meningococcal Vaccines
- CDC – Meningococcal ACIP Vaccine Recommendations
- CDC – Meningococcal Disease
- 50 State Summary of Meningitis Legislation and State Laws
- Ask the Experts Meningococcal ACWY
- Ask the Experts Meningococcal B
- CDC – Updated Recommendations for Use of MenB-FHbp Serogroup B Meningococcal Vaccine — Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, 2016
- CDC – Recommendations for Use of Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccines in HIV-Infected Persons — Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, 2016
- CDC – Use of Serogroup B Meningococcal Vaccines in Adolescents and Young Adults: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, 2015
- CDC – Use of Serogroup B Meningococcal (MenB) Vaccines in Persons Aged ≥10 Years at Increased Risk for Serogroup B Meningococcal Disease: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, 2015
- CDC – Use of MenACWY-CRM Vaccine in Children Aged 2 Through 23 Months at Increased Risk, 2013
- CDC – Prevention and Control of Meningococcal Disease
- Meningococcal B vaccine recommendations by age and risk factor
- What Parents of Every Teen Should Know About Meningitis
- American Camp Association Immunization Recommendations for International Staff
- Recommended Immunizations for Campers
- Vaccines Your Child Needs for Summer Camp
- No Vaccination, No Camp. Finally.
- 11-year-old boy dies from meningitis at sleep-away camp
- The Daniel Beer Foundation
- The Emily Stillman Foundation
- Kim’s Meningitis Story
- 80% Protection is Not Enough