Vaccine information

The most effective thing you can do to protect you and your children from meningitis is to get immunised.

  • There are safe and effective vaccines available that that protect against the most common causes of life-threatening bacterial meningitis and septicaemia (meningococcal, pneumococcal and Hib)
  • These vaccines have reduced the number of cases throughout the world
  • MMR vaccine protects against viral forms of meningitis
  • Not all causes of meningitis and septicaemia are vaccine preventable so being able to recognise the symptoms is vital

Vaccines that protect against some common causes of life-threatening bacterial meningitis and septicaemia are routinely available in many parts of the world.

Meningitis vaccines are routinely given to babies from the age of 2 months onwards.  Young children have less developed immune systems than older age groups which means that they are at increased risk.

Vaccination is a safe way to develop protection against some common causes of disease.

"Vaccines that protect against meningococcal meningitis cannot cause meningitis because they don’t contain anything that can cause infection. " - Professor James Stuart

Meningococcal vaccines

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.  

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.

The MenACWY vaccine was introduced in Ireland from September 2019 for all first year secondary school students.
Since September 2015 in UK and December 2016 in Ireland babies have been offered the MenB (meningococcal group B) vaccine as part of the routine immunisation schedule

Vaccines which protect against MenC are routinely given to children in the UK at 12-13 months of age with a booster dose for teenagers at 14 years.

The UK MenC vaccination programme has been a huge success. Before the MenC vaccine was introduced in 1999 there were over 1000 cases of disease every year. Nowadays we only see around 40 of cases of MenC each year.

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.

Vaccines against other bacterial meningitis types

Pneumococcal vaccine and its use in the UK

Pneumococcal vaccines are routinely given in childhood in many countries across the world.

Before the childhood vaccine was introduced in the UK serious pneumococcal infections killed approximately 50 children under the age of 2 every year. About one third of these deaths were as a result of meningitis.

Find out more   >

Hib (Haemophilus Influenzae Type b) vaccine and its use in the UK and Ireland

The vast majority of countries across the globe routinely provide Hib vaccine in childhood.

The UK introduced the vaccine in in 1992 and prior to its introduction Hib was the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in children, causing about 800 cases each year.  

Since introduction of the vaccine Hib meningitis and septicaemia has almost been eliminated in the UK and Ireland.

Find out more   >

Vaccines against viral meningitis types

MMR vaccine and its use in the UK and Ireland

MMR vaccine protects against some viral causes of meningitis

MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine can help prevent some types of viral meningitis.

Find out more   >

Vaccine schedule in the UK and Ireland

A complete list of all the vaccines that are routinely offered in the UK free of charge on the NHS and the ages at which they should ideally be given is available here.

Ireland has a slightly different vaccination schedule which is available here.

Hib (Haemophilus Influenzae Type B) vaccine
Improved protection against Meningococcal C (MenC) meningitis and septicaemia - UK
Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine
MenACWY vaccine - Ireland
MenACWY vaccine - UK
Meningococcal B (MenB) vaccine UK and Ireland-
Pneumococcal vaccine - UK
MRF Evidence and Policy Manager (Prevention), Claire Wright, discusses the pros and cons of making vaccination compulsory in the fight against meningitis and septicaemia
Vaccine hesitancy is one of the biggest threats to global health. But why does it happen?
Meningitis and septicaemia are serious, life threatening illnesses
Type - Bacterial
Age group - Teenager
Outcome - Bereavement

"Jennifer was also awarded a posthumous degree as she was one exam away from completing her degree when she died."
Type - Bacterial (Group B meningococcal - MenB)
Age group - Teenager
Outcome - Recovery with after effects

"Being told I would lose my legs is still the hardest moment I have encountered"
Type - Bacterial
Age group - Baby (0-1)
Outcome - Recovery with after effects

"One thing I take from all this is trust your motherly instincts, if I didn’t I would be writing a very different story."
Give researchers the clues to help defeat meningitis
Give researchers the clues to help defeat meningitis
£160/€190/$214 decodes the genetic information in a sample of meningococcal bacteria. This information helps us to track new forms of meningitis and campaign to introduce new vaccines.
Membership and support

The MRF Membership and Support team are here for you for any questions you might have about meningitis and septicaemia and their effects on you, or your family and friends.

Tel: Helpline UK 080 8800 3344 Ireland 1800 41 33 44
Share this