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 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 

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


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.  

More about pneumococcal vaccine and its use in the UK


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 our more about Hib 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 our more about MMR vaccine and its use 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.

Vaccine factsheets
MenACWY vaccine
Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine
Pneumococcal Meningitis – Vaccinations
The routine infant meningococcal B (MenB) vaccine against meningitis and septicaemia
Hib (Haemophilus Influenzae Type B) vaccine
Improved protection against Meningococcal C (MenC) meningitis and septicaemia in the 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
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.
Share this
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