Certain age groups are at increased risk of catching meningitis and septicaemia. Young children are particularly at risk because they have less developed immune systems than older age groups.
Vaccines allow young children to safely recognise harmful bacteria and provide vital protection for this vulnerable age group.
Newborn babies are at the highest risk of all age groups. In the UK, babies under the age of 3 months are 70 times more likely to get bacterial meningitis than adults.
Meningitis vaccines are routinely given to babies from 2 months of age in the UK and Ireland. However, babies are also particularly susceptible to meningitis caused by bacteria for which there are no vaccines currently available so it is important to know the symptoms.
Symptoms in babies
Toddlers are the next highest risk age group for bacterial meningitis.
The introduction of routine childhood vaccinations across many countries have decreased the risk in this age group globally. Despite this, there are still causes of meningitis and septicaemia for which no vaccines are available,
Symptoms in toddlers
Teenagers and young adults
Teenagers and young adults are at increased risk of meningitis and septicaemia caused by meningococcal bacteria.
Meningococcal bacteria can live harmlessly in the back of the nose and throat of people of all ages, but teenagers and young adults are much more likely to harbour these bacteria than other age groups, which increases their risk of disease.
Teenagers in the UK are routinely immunised against four types of meningococcal bacteria.
Symptoms in teens and young adults
Adults over the age of 65 are also at an increased risk of certain types of meningitis.
Some countries recommend immunisations to protect his age group. For example, over 65s in the UK are routinely offered free [pneumococcal vaccination[CW3]]. Other countries such as the US also recommend a pneumococcal vaccine for this age group.
Symptoms in adults