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How Does Menactra Work?
This vaccine contains polysaccharide (sugar) molecules from the outside coating of the N. meningitidis bacteria. Unlike the earlier version of the meningococcal vaccine (Menomune®), the polysaccharides in Menactra are attached to diphtheria toxoid proteins (this type of vaccine is known as a conjugate vaccine).
This simple change makes the vaccine more effective for younger children, since children respond better to conjugate vaccines, and it provides longer-lasting immunity.
Simply stated, this vaccine "tricks" the body into thinking it has been exposed to the actual bacteria, but without the risks of a real infection. If future exposure to the bacteria occurs, the immune system "remembers" the bacteria and is better able to fight it off.
Some general considerations with Menactra to keep in mind include the following:
- This vaccine is typically given as a single dose (for individuals age 2 years or older) or as two doses (for infants and toddlers 9 through 23 months of age).
- Menactra is injected into a muscle (intramuscularly), usually in the upper arm (for older children or adults) or in the upper thigh (for babies).
- People can be vaccinated if they have a minor illness, such as the common cold. However, the vaccine should be postponed if the individual is moderately or severely ill.
The dosing schedule for this vaccine varies, depending on age (see Menactra Dosage for more information).