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General practice

Up to date meningitis information for you and your patients:

Meningitis vaccine update

It has been a busy 12 months for meningitis prevention. In particular around meningococcal disease: the cause of around 50% of all bacterial meningitis:

MenC freshers booster: until March 2015

  • First year university students - should receive a booster
  • Cut off point for booster was 31 October - now extended due to new cases of Meningococcal meningitis C (MenC)

New students staying in halls of residence are considered to be at increased risk of encountering the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease. This is due to the close contact with other new students during freshers' week.

Many new starters at university will have only received one dose of  MenC vaccine at a young age and will no longer have immunity to the bacteria. Therefore it is recommended that all new students up to age 25, and those of any age who have never been immunised against MenC get vaccinated as soon as possible.

The cut off date for getting the freshers vaccine was originally 31 October. But following 2 cases of MenC  at Liverpool Hope University, one resulting in a death,  the programme has been extended across England until March 2015.

MenW: rise in cases

A deadly strain of  MenW (Meningococcal W) disease is rising at an alarming rate in the UK.  The strain is causing meningitis and septicaemia in healthy teenagers and young adults and has a higher death rate associated with it than other strains of meningococcal disease1.

Government advisors and the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI), have advised that the teenage and freshers MenC vaccine should be replaced with ACWY vaccine to prevent further disease in these age groups if the quadrivalent vaccine can be procured at a comparable price to the monovalent vaccine.  

We wait to hear whether this advice will translate to a change in vaccination policy and will update this page.

MenC immunisation schedule

  • Babies at 3 months receive a single dose followed by a 12-month booster
  • Babies can receive either NeisVac-C® or Menjugate® at 3 months, but should not be vaccinated with Meningitec 
  • Teenagers now receive a booster dose at around 14 years of age 
The MenC immunisation schedule changed in July 2013 from 2+1 schedule at 3, 4 and 12 months of age to a single dose at 3 months followed by a 12 month booster and a teenage booster at around 14 years of age.

MenB vaccine

  • The new MenB vaccine is licensed in Europe and  has been recommended for use in the UK
  • The MenB vaccine is available privately for those who wish to protect their children
The Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended the vaccine to be introduced into the routine immunisation schedule provided that the Department of Health can procure the vaccine at a cost effective price. 

Negotiations between the Department of Health and the vaccine manufacturer Novartis are underway. We hope to see the vaccine rolled out as part of the infant schedule in Spring 2015 to babies at 2, 4 and 12 months of age.

Proposed MenB programme

  • The JCVI has suggested a catch up campaign for babies who are 3 and 4 months of age
  • Babies aged 3 months will receive three doses at 3, 4 and 12 months of age
  • Babies aged 4 months receive two doses at 4 and 12 months 
Babies and children who are older than 4 months by the time the vaccine is rolled out will not be offered the vaccine on the NHS. It  would remain available privately for parents and carers who want to immunise older children.

Childhood fever: NICE update

  • NICE have produced a new quality standard for feverish illness in children 
  • NICE's feverish illness in children clinical guidance has been updated to include raised heart rate in the traffic light system for identifying risk of serious illness in children
Read the following Clinical Guidelines (CG) and Quality Standard (QS):
  • CG160 
    Feverish illness in children: Assessment and initial management in children younger than 5 years. Clinical Guideline (CG) 160 and Quality Standard (QS) 64. This guideline was updated and replaced NICE clinical guideline 47 (published May 2007) in May 2013  
  • QS64 
    Produced in July 2014 and identifies four high priority areas for improvement in the assessment of feverish illness in children
  • CG102 and QS19
    Bacterial meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia: Management of bacterial meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia in children and young people younger than 16 years in primary and secondary care.

Information for your patients

NICE QS64 and QS19 both prioritise the provision of safety net advice for parents including information on when to seek further help if they have been advised to care for their feverish child at home. 

These commended resources can be useful for parents as part of the safety netting information provided by GPs:

Meningitis Baby Watch

Meningitis Baby Watch cards

The under fives are the most vulnerable age group. This card is included in around one third of all Personal Child Health Records (red books) given to new parents by local health authorities.

It helps parents and other carers, to recognise the symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia in babies and very small children who cannot explain how they are feeling.

Tot Watch

Meningitis Tot Watch 

This leaflet gives the symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia for the under fives, including the red flag symptoms.
Race Against Time

Race Against Time

A symptoms leaflet, which also addresses some of the myths that surround meningitis and septicaemia.
Symptoms card

Symptoms card

Recovering from meningitis and septicaemia

Some of your patients may have recovered from bacterial meningitis or meningococcal septicaemia. We can support them. Help us to help them by passing on our resources. Order or download the free resources: 

Support for you

The support we can offer your patients includes:
  • Offering a listening ear and support 
  • Answering their questions and providing information
  • Helping them navigate the disability rights and benefits system
  • Putting them in touch with telephone befrienders who have been through a similar experience
your Guide

Your Guide: Recovering from childhood bacterial meningitis and septicaemia

The meningitis charities have produced information for parents which describes possible after effects, expected recovery patterns and how to access further care and support.


1.            Shamez N. Ladhani, et al. Increase in endemic Neisseria meningitidis capsular group W ST-11 complex associated with severe invasive disease in England and Wales. Clinical Infectious Diseases  2014  [cited Advance access November 10]; Available from:

Guidance Notes

Meningococcal Meningitis and Septicaemia

 Identify and treat early:       
Endorsed by the BMA and produced in line with the NICE Bacterial Meningitis and Meningococcal Septicaemia Guideline102.

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All of our resources are produced in consultation with a wide range of medical experts:

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