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Meningococcal Conjugate-ACYW-135 (Men-C-ACYW) Vaccine

Meningococcal bacteria are common but can cause serious illness. Learn about how the Men-C-ACYW vaccine helps protect against disease caused by four types of this bacteria.

Meningococcal bacteria are common. They live in the back of the nose and throat in about 1 in 5 people. Usually, the bacteria do not make people sick. However, in some cases the bacteria can cause serious illness.

The Meningococcal Conjugate-ACYW-135 (Men-C-ACYW) vaccine helps to protect against disease caused by four types of this bacteria.

How infections spread

The bacteria spreads through close contact with saliva, usually through:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Kissing
  • Sharing things that have been in the mouth of a person who has the disease, such as:
    • Food
    • Drinks
    • Water bottles
    • Musical instrument mouthpieces
    • Lip gloss


The earliest signs are:

  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Decreased consciousness

Other signs might include:

  • Severe headache
  • Vomiting
  • Stiff neck
  • Pain when moving the head and neck
  • Red spots on the skin that appear but do not disappear when pressed

Symptoms can become serious and life-threatening very quickly, sometimes within hours.

Getting the vaccine

You should vaccinate your child because:

  • The vaccine works very well when given just before or early in the teenage years.
  • Teenagers are more likely to try activities that increase the risk of infection. This is why it is important that youth get the vaccine before this stage.
  • The law says that students in grades 7 - 12 are required to have this vaccine to go to school. Many colleges and universities need proof of having this vaccine as well.
  • This vaccine is recommended for travel to some countries.

Note: This vaccine is different from the meningococcal-C vaccine given at one year of age.

Who should not get this vaccine

Students should see their doctor for possible vaccination if they have:

  • A history of a bad reaction after getting a vaccine
  • An allergy to tetanus or diphtheria toxoid

Deciding not to get vaccinated

This vaccine is required by law. Students who are not vaccinated can be suspended from school. Your student could be at risk of getting meningitis if you decide not to vaccinate.

Parent's who do not vaccinate for personal choice must...

  • Complete an exemption form
  • Have the legal document notarized
  • Attend a vaccine education session at Halton Region Health Department
  • Bring the forms to the Halton Region Health Department

Parent's who do not vaccinate for medical reasons must...

  • Have a doctor fill out a medical exemption form
  • Bring the form to the Halton Region Health Department

Risk of meningitis vs. risk of vaccine

Risk of meningitis

  • There are 200 cases each year in Canada.
  • Brain can swell, causing permanent hearing loss, seizures or learning disabilities.
  • Blood infection can cause shock and organ failure.
  • Other infections of the lungs, joints, bones, heart and skin.
  • Death rate occurs 1 in every 10 in severe cases.

Risk of vaccine

  • Up to 60 per cent of people get a sore arm.
  • Up to 60 per cent of people feel fatigue.
  • Serious adverse events are very rare.

Preparing your child for vaccination

Before vaccinating your child

  • Talk to your student about the vaccine.
  • Complete and return the consent form.
  • Review helpful ways to deal with fear or anxiety (e.g., count to ten, look away from needle, focus on breathing).

On clinic day, make sure that your child

  • Has something to eat
  • Wears a short sleeve shirt