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.

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.

A.

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.

MenC vaccine

Vaccines that protect against meningococcal C (MenC) have been routinely used in the UK since 1999 and in Ireland since 2000.  

The MenC vaccine has dramatically reduced cases of disease.  Before the vaccine was introduced MenC meningitis and septicaemia killed about 150 people in the UK every year.  Now there are just a handful of cases annually.

In the UK babies are immunised with MenC containing vaccine at 12 months of age as a combined Hib/MenC vaccine.  A routine booster dose is also being given at around 14 years of age as a combined MenACWY vaccine.

In Ireland babies are immunised with MenC vaccine at 4 and 13 months of age with a booster dose at 12-13 years.

Changes to the meningococcal C (MenC) meningitis and septicaemia vaccination programme in the UK

MenB vaccine

Meningococcal B (MenB) vaccine is routinely given to babies in the UK and Ireland at 2, 14 and 12 months.

The vaccine was introduced to the UK schedule in September 2015 and to the Irish schedule in December 2016.

The MenB vaccine has been shown to be working well following its introduction to UK infants, with cases of MenB halving in vaccine eligible age groups ten months after the vaccine was introduced.

More about MenB vaccine

MenACWY 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

A.

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 two thirds of these deaths were as a result of meningitis.  

Download our pneumococcal vaccine factsheet

A.

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.

Download our Hib vaccine factsheet

A.

MMR vaccine protects against some viral causes of meningitis

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

Download our MMR Vaccine factsheet

A.

Meningitis vaccines in the routine immunisation schedule for children in the UK

2 months 3 months 4 months 12 to 13months  13/14 years*
Hib & diptheria, tetanus, 
whooping cough, polio
(DTaP/IPV/Hib)
Hib & diptheria, tetanus, 
whooping cough, polio
(DTaP/IPV/Hib)
Hib & diptheria, tetanus, 
whooping cough, polio
(DTaP/IPV/Hib)
   
Pneumococcal(PCV13)   Pneumococcal(PCV13) Pneumococcal(PCV13)  
        Meningococcal ACWY*
      Hib & Meningococcal C (Hib/MenC)  
Meningococcal B (MenB)+   Meningococcal B (MenB)+ Meningococcal B (MenB)  
      MeaslesMumps, Rubella (MMR)  

* The routine MenACWY immunisation for teenagers started in August 2015. 

+ Liquid paracetamol should be given to babies who are being vaccinated with MenB as part of the routine schedule at 2 and 4 months of age. You should make sure you have a supply of liquid paracetamol at home in readiness for your baby’s immunisations.

Current schedule for children in Ireland

2 months 4 months 6 months 12 months 13 months
Diptheria/ Tetanus/ Pertussis/ Polio / Hib/ Hepatitis B
('6-in-one')
Diptheria/ Tetanus/ Pertussis/ Polio / Hib/ Hepatitis B
('6-in-one')
Diptheria/ Tetanus/ Pertussis/ Polio / Hib/ Hepatitis B
('6-in-one')
   
  Meningococcal Group C (MenC)     Meningococcal Group C (MenC)
Pneumococcal   Pneumococcal Pneumococcal  
      MMR  
        Hib

Schedule for babies in Ireland born on or after 1st October 2016

2 months 4 months 6 months 12 months 13 months
Diptheria/ Tetanus/ Pertussis/ Polio /Hib/ Hepatitis B
('6-in-one')
Diptheria/ Tetanus/ Pertussis/ Polio / Hib/ Hepatitis B
('6-in-one')
Diptheria/ Tetanus/ Pertussis/ Polio / Hib/ Hepatitis B
('6-in-one')
   
    Meningococcal Group C (MenC)    
Pneumococcal   Pneumococcal   Pneumococcal
      MMR  
        Hib/Meningococcal Group C (MenC)
Meningococcal B(MenB) Meningococcal B (MenB)   Meningococcal B (MenB)  
Rotavirus Rotavirus      

The importance of vaccination

Sophie had MenW meningitis and septicaemia at the age of 21 

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