Meningitis vaccinations: frequently asked questions
Where can you get meningitis vaccinations?
Pneumococcal and Hib vaccinations are offered as part of most routine vaccination schedules around the world. Some countries also have routine meningococcal vaccination schedules.
Details of vaccination schedules can be found here:
How can I check what vaccinations my family have had and what do I do if myself or my child has missed a vaccination?
If you are living in the UK and are unsure about what vaccinations you, or your child, may have had previously speak to your GP.
Your local surgery will be able to confirm what immunisations you have had and provide guidance on what you may need and how to arrange it.
Are meningitis vaccines safe?
Yes. Vaccine safety is carefully established in clinical trials before vaccines are introduced and by close monitoring throughout their use.
For serious life-threatening diseases such as meningitis and septicaemia, acquiring immunity through immunisation is a far safer way to get protected than risking exposure to the diseases.
Since the introduction of the first meningitis vaccine more than 30 years ago, millions of doses have been administered to people worldwide saving countless numbers of lives.
Vaccinations have also changed the course of history by informing our response to disease control and prevention, with research findings and ongoing surveillance shaping routine immunisation schedules.
More detailed information on the safety of each vaccine can be found in our vaccine factsheets (you can access these by going to the section above, on types of meningitis vaccines and the protection they offer for which ages).
Can you still get meningitis if you have been vaccinated?
There are many different strains of bacteria and viruses that can cause meningitis. Although there aren’t vaccines to prevent against all forms of the disease, there are several immunisations which are routinely available around the world to provide protection against the most common causes of the disease and significantly reduce the chance of infection. Even if someone is fully vaccinated, as we can’t immunise everyone against all forms of the disease, it’s really important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of meningitis and septicaemia. Immunisation awareness and prevention are all key to preventing this disease.
What if I would like a meningitis vaccination but I would not be offered a vaccination as part of the routine immunisation schedule?
Vaccinations are routinely offered to those at greatest risk of disease. Conjugate vaccines also indirectly protect the wider population by stopping those who are vaccinated from carrying, and transmitting the bacteria.
However, meningitis is such a deadly and disabling disease that some may wish to be protected however small the risk of them contracting the disease. For example, for some vaccines in the UK, such as MenB and MenACWY, there is the option to pay privately to receive it at a local clinic or pharmacy.
Where can I find further information about meningitis vaccines?
As part of our support services, MRF offers a helpline for those living in the UK and Ireland which can assist with any queries you may have around vaccinations.
There are also other organisations, like the Oxford Vaccination knowledge project, which offers independent information about vaccinations and infectious diseases, as well as the World Health Organization which provides data around vaccinations and global immunisation schedules.
Help spread life-saving awareness with our free resources
Every year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) coordinates World Immunization Week (24-30th April). To help spread the word please visit our World Immunization Week page where you can find information and resources you can share.