Meningococcal bacteria are a leading cause of meningitis and septicaemia across the globe. Six groups of meningococcal bacteria cause the most disease globally. These are groups:
- A (MenA)
- B (MenB)
- C (MenC)
- W (MenW)
- X (MenX)
- Y (MenY)
For decades meningococcal C (MenC) and meningococcal B (MenB) have been the most common causes of meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia in the UK and Ireland.
MenC vaccines have been routinely available in the UK and Ireland since the turn of the century but a vaccine that protects against MenB has been introduced in these countries much more recently.
Since 2009 there has been an increase in a particularly virulent strain of meningococcal W (MenW) meningitis and septicaemia and a teenage MenACWY vaccination programme was introduced in 2015 to combat this.
More about Men C vaccine in the UK
More about MenB vaccine
MenACWY vaccine for teenagers
Since 2015 UK teenagers have been routinely offered the MenACWY vaccine at around 14 years of age in response to a rapid rise in a particularly deadly strain of MenW disease.
There was also a catch up programme to immunise everyone who was aged 14-18 in 2015, but uptake of the vaccine in older teenagers has been worryingly low.
More about the teenage MenACWY vaccination
Check your eligibility for the vaccine here
MenACWY vaccine for travellers and pilgrims
As a result of epidemics of meningococcal disease being linked to the Hajj in the past, vaccination with MenACWY is now an entry requirement to Saudi Arabia for pilgrims on Hajj or Umrah. It is also recommended as a travel vaccine for certain destinations.
More about MenACWY vaccination for travellers and pilgrims