Meningitis - Prevention
Immunization against some of the organisms
that can cause
meningitis is the most effective way to prevent the
illness. Some causes of meningitis that can be prevented by vaccines include:
Measles, mumps, and rubella viruses. The
measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine(What is a PDF document?) is routinely given to children between 12
months and 15 months of age and again at 4 to 6 years of
- Varicella (chickenpox) virus. Two doses of the
chickenpox vaccine(What is a PDF document?) are recommended for children, the first at 12 to 15 months
and the second at 4 to 6 years old. Older children, teens, and adults who have
not had chickenpox can also get immunized.
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) virus.
Hib vaccine(What is a PDF document?) is recommended for all children between 2 months and 5 years
of age and anyone older than 5 who has a medical condition such as
sickle cell disease or an
impaired immune system.
Neisseria meningitidis and Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria.
meningococcal conjugate vaccine(What is a PDF document?) helps protect against certain strains of
Neisseria meningitidis. The Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) recommends 2 doses of this vaccine for adolescents at age 11 or
12 and again at age 16.7 People age 21 or younger (including college freshmen who live in dormitories) who have not had the vaccine should get it as soon as
possible. This vaccine is also recommended for certain people
who may be at higher-than-normal risk, such as travelers to countries known to
have outbreaks of meningitis, people without a spleen, and those who have
HIV. Some people need a booster dose every 5 years.
- Routine vaccination with
pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV)(What is a PDF document?) is recommended for children ages 2 and
younger to help prevent infection from Streptococcus pneumoniae.
A link has been found
between meningitis and
cochlear implants for severe hearing loss. To help
protect against meningitis from Streptococcus pneumoniae, experts recommend that people with cochlear implants get the
pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV). Also, some people with implants have ear
infections before they get meningitis, so people with implants should receive
prompt antibiotic treatment for ear infections.
Breast-feeding may protect
children ages 2 to 5 months against meningitis caused by Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) bacteria. But it is still
important to give breast-fed babies the Hib vaccine.
For more information about immunizations, see the
Reduce your risk
You can take steps to reduce your
risk of infection and prevent the spread of meningitis by:
- Avoiding people who have
- Separating people with meningitis from other people in
Washing your hands often if you have meningitis or are
caring for someone with meningitis. Wash your hands after using the toilet or
helping a sick child use the toilet, after changing a sick baby's diaper, and
after handling used bedsheets, towels, clothes, or personal items of a person
who has meningitis.
- Avoiding insects and rodents that carry
organisms that cause meningitis. If you live in or visit an area of the world
where there are insects (such as mosquitoes and ticks) and rodents (such as
mice and rats) that carry organisms that cause meningitis, take steps to avoid
contact with them. For example, use insect repellent and keep all rodents out
of your home and other buildings.