Prevention of Meningococcal Infection in the United States: Current Recommendations and Future Considerations

J Adolesc Health. 2016 Aug;59(2 Suppl):S29-37. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2016.03.040.


Neisseria meningitidis is a common cause of bacterial meningitis and septicemia that can lead to permanent sequelae or death. N meningitidis is classified into serogroups based on the composition of the capsular polysaccharide, with serogroups A, B, C, W, X, and Y recognized as the major disease-causing organisms. The unpredictability of infection coupled with the poor prognosis for some patients suggests immunization as an effective preventive strategy. Importantly, four of the six disease-causing serogroups (A, C, Y, and W) may be prevented with available quadrivalent capsular polysaccharide-protein conjugate vaccines; these vaccines have been successfully implemented into immunization programs in the United States. Unfortunately, quadrivalent conjugate vaccines are not effective against serogroup B, now the most common cause of invasive meningococcal disease. Two recombinant protein vaccines recently were licensed for prevention of serogroup B disease. Recommendations for use of these serogroup B vaccines in the United States have been made by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. This article will discuss all available meningococcal vaccines, current recommendations for use, lessons learned from previous experiences, and future considerations, with the hope of further understanding how use of these vaccines may help reduce incidence of meningococcal disease in the United States.

Keywords: Meningococcal serogroup B outbreaks; Meningococcal vaccines; Neisseria meningitidis; Prevention; Vaccine recommendations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Outbreaks / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs / economics
  • Immunization Programs / methods*
  • Incidence
  • Meningococcal Infections / epidemiology
  • Meningococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Meningococcal Infections / prevention & control*
  • Meningococcal Vaccines / immunology*
  • Neisseria meningitidis / classification
  • Neisseria meningitidis / immunology
  • Risk
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Universities
  • Vaccines, Conjugate / biosynthesis
  • Vaccines, Conjugate / immunology*


  • Meningococcal Vaccines
  • Vaccines, Conjugate