General practice

Up to date meningitis information for you and your patients.

Two new immunisation programmes launched in the UK

2015 has been a landmark year for meningitis prevention, seeing the introduction of two new immunisation programmes for the prevention of meningococcal disease: the cause of around 50% of all bacterial meningitis in the UK.

In September, vaccination for babies against meningococcal group B meningitis and septicaemia (MenB) will be introduced into the routine immunisation schedule.

From August, a one off vaccination against meningococcal groups ACWY meningitis and septicaemia (MenACWY) will be offered to 14-18 year olds and university freshers under the age of 25 as a direct replacement of the MenC freshers vaccine that has been delivered through GP surgeries and university health centres. MenACWY will also directly replace the MenC booster given at around 14 years of age.

Public health agencies have provided in depth information regarding how these vaccines should be delivered to your patients. Some of the key points are summarised below:

MenB vaccine - Bexsero

  • The new MenB vaccine will be available to all UK babies as part of the routine immunisation schedule from 1 September 2015
  • Vaccine is likely to be available to order from Immform in early August
  • All babies born on or after 1 July 2015 will be eligible to receive the MenB vaccine as part of the routine schedule at 2, 4 and 12 months of age
  • Babies born between 1 May 2015 and 30 June 2015 will also be eligible for the vaccine*
  • Babies born before 1 May 2015 will not be offered the vaccine on the NHS. It will remain available privately for parents and carers who want to immunise older children.
Prophylactic paracetamol use
  • Clinical trials of the MenB vaccine Bexsero found that rates of fever after administering Bexsero alongside other childhood immunisations are higher than when existing routine vaccines are given alone. There was a 51-61% fever rate after Bexsero was given alongside routine vaccines compared to 23-36% after routine vaccines alone.
  • To reduce the likelihood of fever it is recommended that three doses of prophylactic paracetamol be given to children with the menB doses in infancy (at the 2 and 4 month visits)
  • The first dose of paracetamol should be given at the time of vaccination or as soon as possible afterwards and the second and third doses should be given at 4-6 hourly intervals thereafter.
  • One 5ml paracetamol sachet with a measuring syringe can be given to parents at their first visit. At subsequent visits parents will be expected to supply their own paracetamol.
  • Stocks of paracetamol sachets and syringes can be ordered from Immform at the same time as ordering MenB vaccine.
*Catch up schedule for children born between 1 May 2015 and 30 June 2015
  • Those who have not already received any routine vaccinations, should have MenB at the same time as their first and third routine infant vaccinations
  • Those who have already received their first dose of routine vaccinations should have MenB at the same time as their second and third routine infant vaccinations
  • Those who have already received their first and second dose of routine vaccinations should have MenB at the same time as their third routine infant vaccinations 
  • Booster of MenB should also be offered at 12-13 months
Read our comprehensive Men B vaccine factsheet

More in depth information on MenB vaccine implementation

Information and training slides for immunisers have been produced by Public Health England: Scottish Chief Medical Officer guidance letter is available from:

MenW: UK rise in cases and the ACWY vaccination programme

A deadly strain of MenW (Meningococcal W) disease is rising at an alarming rate in the UK. MRF’s Meningococcal Genome Library was instrumental in identifying this strain.

The strain is causing meningitis and septicaemia across all age groups especially babies, healthy teenagers and young adults and has a higher death rate associated with it than other strains of meningococcal disease.

Government advisors, the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisations (JCVI), have concluded that the increase in MenW disease in England and Wales constitutes an outbreak situation. They have advised that a programme to immunise everyone aged 14-18 years of age should be implemented as soon as is practicable in order to generate herd protection against MenW and prevent further rapid increases in disease amongst the rest of the population. The MenACWY vaccine will also be offered to first time university entrants up to the age of 25 as a direct replacement of the current freshers MenC vaccination.

Sufficient MenACWY vaccine has now been procured to vaccinate all 17 and 18 year olds born between 1st September 1996 and 31st August 1997 as well as older university freshers over the summer. As there is no longer an opportunity to vaccinate eligible 17 to 18 year olds in the education setting, they will be vaccinated in GP surgeries, via a GP call recall system. Older university freshers will not be contacted by their GP and must self-identify their need for vaccination or be offered the vaccine by GPs on an opportunistic basis .

The MenACWY will replace the routine teenage booster of MenC currently administered to children at around 14 years of age in schools.

A catch up programme to vaccinate 14 to 17 year olds who are not due the adolescent booster will take place over the next two years throughout the UK, although this catch up programme will be completed within one year in Scotland.

Both conjugate MenACWY vaccines, Menveo and Nimenrix, can be used for this programme.

Health professionals are urged to remain vigilant to the signs and symptoms of meningococcal disease and keep a high index of suspicion for the MenW strain.

Read more about the rise in MenW disease

More in depth information on MenACWY vaccine implementation

Information and training slides for immunisers have been produced by Public Health England:

Scottish Chief Medical Officer guidance letter is available from:

Information for your patients

Symptoms Resouces

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 resources

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.


UK University Poster 2015

Download the poster

Order online


Poster encouraging freshers to get the MenACWY vaccine to protect themselves and #StopTheSpread of a deadly new strain of meningitis in the UK.

Also presents symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia.

Meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia - Guidance Notes for GPs

Download the Booklet

Order online

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