Meningococcus | The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Parents PACK


General information

Please visit the Vaccine Education Center for general information about meningococcus and the vaccine.


Watch this video to find out why college students should get the meningococcal vaccine.

Additional information from past issues of the Parents PACK newsletter

Causes of meningitis

Everyone has heard it on the news...the story of a local student infected with meningitis. Such a report inevitably results in many questions and a great amount of concern and even fear among families with children in the affected school.

There are some important considerations when this happens.  First, it is important to remember that meningitis refers to an infection that has reached the lining of the brain and spinal cord.  Second, it can be caused by viruses or bacteria (hence the reference to viral meningitis or bacterial meningitis). 

Viral meningitis is often less severe than bacterial meningitis. Most, but not all, cases of bacterial meningitis can be prevented by vaccination. The bacteria most often associated with meningitis include meningococcus, pneumococcus, and Haemophilus influenzae type B (often referred to as Hib). Fortunately, by the age of 2, most children are fully immunized against pneumococcus and Hib and soon most adolescents will be protected against meningococcus.

Smoking and increased risk of disease

Because smoking disrupts the lining of the throat and lungs, people who smoke are at increased risk of some infections, including pneumococcus and meningococcus. Both of these vaccine-preventable diseases can cause meningitis. Pneumococcus is also a common cause of pneumonia.

Updated: January 2013

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Meningococcal Vaccine Q&A

"Meningococcus: What you should know" Q&A sheet: