Other ingredients in the vaccine include:
- Aluminium hydroxide (the active ingredients of the vaccine are adsorbed to this to improve immunogenicity)
- Histidine (used to regulate the PH of the vaccine)
- Sodium chloride*
- Water for injections
* Used to make an isotonic solution (a solution with a similar salt concentration as cells and blood in the body)
Are there any safety reasons not to have the vaccine? What about allergies?
People who have previously had an anaphylactic reaction to any of the vaccine components listed above should not get the vaccine.
Anaphylaxis to current vaccines is very rare and is estimated to occur in one in a million doses given, although a recent study found no reports of anaphylaxis following more than 5 million preschool and infant immunisations over an entire year in the UK and Ireland.
People with severe immune system problems cannot have live vaccines, but the new MenB vaccine is not live. Food allergies are not a reason to avoid vaccination, except people with egg allergies who may need to avoid some flu vaccines. People often worry that eczema, asthma, epilepsy and a family history of reactions to vaccinations are a reason to avoid vaccinations, but this is not true.
The tip cap of the syringe may contain natural rubber latex. The risk of developing an allergic reaction is very small, but you should speak to your doctor or nurse before being vaccinated.
Will this vaccine be offered to adolescents free of charge within the health service?
There is no current UK or Irish recommendation for adolescents to be vaccinated.
Typically, meningococcal disease is most common in babies and children under five, with a second peak in adolescence. However, at present the peak age for meningococcal disease is at 5 months of age, and the number of cases in adolescents is even lower than usual.
In theory, vaccinating teenagers could have benefits for the whole population, in addition to directly protecting those vaccinated. Teenagers are the main carriers of meningococcal bacteria, so if vaccinating them could prevent them from carrying the bug and passing it on, it could protect everyone, including people who aren’t vaccinated.
However, in the UK the JCVI concluded that there was not enough evidence about the extent to which the MenB vaccine would stop teenagers from carrying and transmitting the bug, nor how long vaccination would directly protect this age group. For these reasons the JCVI recommended that a carriage study should be undertaken in adolescents to show whether the vaccine could stop them acquiring the bacteria in their throats. The results from this study will help them decide whether the vaccine should be offered to all teenagers in future.
My child is too old to qualify for the MenB vaccine on the NHS. Should I get them vaccinated privately?
If your child was born before 1 May 2015 they are not eligible to receive any vaccine doses on the NHS.
Babies are at the highest risk of contracting meningococcal disease with peak incidence occurring at around 5 months of age. This is why the vaccine is offered early at 2 and 4 months followed by a booster at 12 months.
Children older than 5 months of age are still at risk of disease, but their risk is substantially lower than that of younger babies which is why routine vaccination on the NHS is focussing on the youngest age groups.
Over the past ten years, the incidence of MenB disease has been steadily declining and at the moment cases of disease are lower than they have been for decades. Current incidence of disease amongst the under 1s is around 22 per 100,000, reducing to 5 per 100,000 in the 1-4 age groups. The incidence of disease amongst older age groups is substantially less.
MenB is a deadly and disabling disease with such a rapid onset that some parents may wish to have their child protected however small the risk of them contracting disease. The vaccine is available privately for parents who wish purchase it.
How can I get the vaccine for my child if s/he is not eligible for it free of charge within the health service?
GPs and travel clinics throughout the UK and Ireland have been informed that the vaccine is available. Start by asking your own GP for the vaccine, as if they can provide it, this is likely to be the least costly option. GPs may not be able to offer the vaccine to their own patients, but they may be able to arrange it via another surgery on private prescription. You can also get the vaccine from a travel vaccination clinic in your area, or a private GP practice. It is worth asking more than one clinic as prices can vary considerably.
The manufacturer has a customer service line in the UK for healthcare professionals only.
GPs or other health professionals can ring to get the vaccine: 08457 451500, Mon-Thu 8am-4.45pm and Fri 8am-1pm, http://www.bexsero.co.uk/healthcare-professional/ordering-bexsero.htm
. The manufacturer is prohibited by law from speaking to members of the public on this line and any patients who call will be referred back to their healthcare practitioner
In Ireland, Bexsero® iis available to order through GSK. Health professionals can ring to get the vaccine on 01 257 1420.