How does this medication work? What will it do for me?
This medication belongs to the family of medications known as vaccines. It is used to prevent infections such as meningitis and blood infections caused by meningococcal group C bacteria (also called N. meningitidis serogroup C). It works by stimulating the immune system to produce antibodies (substances designed to attack that particular bacteria). These antibodies remain in the body, ready to attack these bacteria, thereby reducing the risk of an infection.
It is given to people who are 2 months of age or older.
This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.
Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are being given this medication, speak to your doctor.
What form(s) does this medication come in?
Each 0.5 mL dose of semi-opaque white-to-off-white suspension contains N. meningitidis group C polysaccharide 10 µg and 10 µg to 20 µg of tetanus carrier. Nonmedicinal ingredients: aluminum hydroxide and sodium chloride.
How should I use this medication?
For infants 2 to 12 months old, the usual dosing schedule is 2 doses of 0.5 mL of vaccine injected into a muscle (preferably in the outer upper thigh) by a qualified health care professional. The doses should be given at least 2 months apart. Depending on when an infant received their vaccine, the doctor may recommend a "booster dose" given about one year after the last dose was given.
For children older than 12 months of age, adolescents, and adults, the usual dosing schedule is one dose (0.5 mL) of vaccine injected into a muscle (preferably in the upper, outer arm) by a qualified health care professional.
Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are using the medication without consulting your doctor.
This medication should be stored in the refrigerator. Do not freeze it. It may also be stored at room temperature, but must be used within 9 months after removing it from the refrigerator or by the expiry date, whichever comes first. Keep it out of the reach of children.
Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.
Who should NOT take this medication?
Do not use this medication if you:
- are allergic to meningococcal vaccine or any ingredients of this medication
- are allergic to tetanus or diphtheria toxoid
- have had neurological effects after a previous meningococcal vaccine
What side effects are possible with this medication?
Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.
The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.
The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.
Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.
- appetite changes (infants and young children)
- diarrhea (infants and young children)
- irritability (infants and young children)
- limb pain in the arm or leg at the place of injection
- muscle aches
- pain, warmth, redness, tenderness, swelling, hardening at the place of injection
- sleepiness (infants)
- vomiting (infants)
Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
- rash (infants and young children)
- shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- signs of an allergic reaction (e.g., rash itching or hives)
- unusual or persistent crying (infants)
- weakness; tingling; or numbness in the legs, arms, or upper body
Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:
- seizures or convulsions
- signs of a serious allergic reaction (shortness of breath; wheezing; trouble breathing; hives; swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat)
- signs of a severe skin reaction such as blistering, peeling, a rash covering a large area of the body, a rash that spreads quickly, or a rash combined with fever or discomfort
Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.
Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?
Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Bleeding problems: There is a risk of increased bleeding or bruising when any intramuscular injection is given to a person who has a bleeding disorder or is taking medications to thin the blood. The safety and effectiveness of this vaccine have not been established for people with thrombocytopenia (low platelets) or bleeding disorders. If you have these conditions, discuss the risks and benefits of this vaccine with your doctor.
Breathing problems: When given to very premature babies, there is the risk that the vaccine may cause problems breathing, such as the infant temporarily stopping breathing. There is a significant benefit to giving this vaccine to this group of infants. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Fever: A doctor may decide to delay this vaccine if the person receiving the vaccine has an acute infection or fever. Mild infections without fever, such as colds, usually do not require delay of the vaccine.
Immune problems: When used for people with impaired immune systems, meningococcal vaccines may not create enough of an antibody response to protect against infections caused by these bacteria. Also, this vaccine may not be effective for people receiving immunosuppressive therapy (e.g., some medications used to treat cancer or for transplant recipients).
Pre-medication: Your doctor may suggest that infants and children receive antifever medications (e.g., acetaminophen, ibuprofen) before or after receiving the vaccine. Follow the instructions given by your doctor.
Protection: This vaccine can only protect against the types of bacteria specific to this vaccine and, as with other vaccines, may not provide 100% protection for everyone who receives the vaccine.
Pregnancy: This vaccine should only be used during pregnancy if the benefits outweigh the risks. If you discover you were pregnant when you received this vaccine, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Breast-feeding: It is not known if meningococcal vaccine (group C) passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and may be given this vaccine, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding or wait until you have stopped breast-feeding to receive the vaccine.
Seniors: The safety and effectiveness of this vaccine has not been established for adults 65 years or older.
What other drugs could interact with this medication?
There may be an interaction between meningococcal vaccine (group C) and any of the following:
- corticosteroids (e.g., budesonide, dexamethasone, hydrocortisone, fluticasone, prednisone)
- medications to treat cancer (e.g., carboplatin, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, ifosfamide, vincristine)
- other vaccines
If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:
- stop taking one of the medications,
- change one of the medications to another,
- change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
- leave everything as is.
An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.
Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.