Meningitis Vaccine Cost

Written by: Staff

The meningococcal meningitis vaccination protects us from meningitis, a disease which is caused by the inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and the spine.  While most people do eventually recover, it can cause brain damage, learning disabilities and/or even hearing loss in some circumstances.

A vaccination will be the most protective way to protect yourself from any type of meningitis.

Meningitis Vaccine Cost
The needle” (CC BY 2.0) by Dr. Partha Sarathi Sahana

How much does the meningitis vaccine cost?

The cost of the meningitis vaccine depends on your health insurance coverage, which vaccine you need, where you get the shot and your geographical location.  For those who do not have insurance, the entire vaccination, including the vaccination, should cost around $125 to $185 per dosage.   In some cases, you can receive both vaccinations, the meningococcal conjugate and serogroup B, preferably in both arms at the same time.

However, as for health insurance, most plans will cover a set of preventative services based on the CDC recommendation schedule, with no out-of-pocket expenses.  Be sure to talk with your health insurance policy to know if you’re covered.

A booster shot, in the future, will be recommended about five years after the first vaccination and then every five years thereafter if vaccinated after age 7.  If vaccinated between the ages of two and seven, then the first booster is often recommended three years after the first vaccine and then every five years after.

According to the official Walgreens pricing sheet at their walk-in clinics, for example, the cost for the Meningococcal vaccination is about $134 per dosage, whereas the Meningitis B series vaccination, designed for those 10 to 25 years old, can cost $175 per dosage.  These are the prices for those who do not have a health insurance policy.

LocationAverage Reported Cost
Health Department$115
Walgreens$134 to $175

The New York Times notes a complete Bexsero series costs $320, while the competing vaccine for meningitis B, Trumenba, a Pfizer product, costs $345.

What is the meningitis vaccine?

According to the CDC, the meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MCV4) can prevent the infection of the meningococcal disease, and the vaccine can protect close to 90 percent of those who get it.  This vaccine is not indicated as a treatment method for meningococcal infections.  The other meningitis vaccine,  serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) vaccine, will protect against an additional bacterial strain that’s known to cause the disease.

Some meningococcal vaccines are designed to protect again four serogroups: A, C, W and Y, while others can help protect one serogroup:  B.  As of this publishing, there is not one vaccine that is able to protect against all common serogroups.

Who should receive the meningitis vaccine?

Any college students, especially incoming freshmen, who live on campus inside dorm rooms.

All adolescents ages 11 to 12, with a booster at 16

All military personnel

Any travelers who are traveling to an area known where the meningococcal disease is common

Anyone who is known to have a damaged or removed spleen

Anyone with an immune system disorder

Those who feel they were exposed to meningitis

Who should not get the vaccine?

Anyone who is pregnant, unless, in rare cases, your doctor feels it’s necessary

Anyone with a severe allergic reaction to a previous vaccination component

Those who are severely ill at the time of consideration

Anyone who has had Guillain-Barre Syndrome in the past

How to save on the meningitis vaccine

Check out health departments and pharmacies:  Consider bypassing your local doctor’s office to save on the office examination fee and instead, consider the local health department or even a local pharmacy such as CVS, Walgreens or Walmart.  These locations tend to be up to 40 percent cheaper than your doctor’s office.  To be certain, though, check with your office over the phone, as well as the locations listed, to see what they charge and if they accept your insurance.  Most places should be able to offer you an estimate over the phone.

Student health center:  For students, college students who did not get vaccinated can often take advantage of student discounted vaccinations at their student health center.  Check out your university’s health center website to see if you can find information.

Health insurance coverage:  As mentioned above, talk with your health insurance company to see if the vaccination is covered and if so, where you can go to take advantage of the insurance discount.  Oftentimes, as long as you’re in-network, you can either have the entire vaccination covered or you will be responsible for the co-pay.

Special vaccination days held by the city:  Some cities often hold a vaccination clinic day, where all of the local residents can come on a special day to take advantage of many vaccinations, aside from the meningitis vaccine, for a low cost.

Meet income requirements for free vaccinations: Those who meet certain income restrictions and are uninsured may be able to receive vaccinations for free at authorized locations.

Meningitis vaccine side effects

Mild to moderate problems may occur redness or swelling at the site of administration and/or a fever, drowsiness and/or muscle aches.

Severe problems, albeit rare, can include a difficult time breathing, wheezing, hives, pale skin, dizziness and/or a fast heartbeat.

This is not a complete list of all side effects.  A full list can be found here.  If you experience any of these side effects, contact a medical professional immediately for help.

Tips to know

All children, around ages 11 to 12, should be vaccinated via a single dosage of meningococcal conjugate vaccine, as per the CDC.  Since this protection will decrease over time, as mentioned above, a booster will be recommended at around 16 years old, where teenagers are at their highest risk of attracting the disease.  While teenagers and younger adults can be vaccinated with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine, the CDC does recommend you talk with your physician for more information to see if it’s necessary or not.

A lot of college campus will require proof of the meningococcal conjugate vaccination within the past five years before starting school.

The minimum time needed between the doses of meningococcal conjugate vaccine is eight weeks.

The CDC, according to its official website, has no preference as to which brand your child reecievs, whether its Menactra® or Menveo®.

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