Preventing meningitis in teenagers vaccinated against MenB as babies: is one booster dose enough?

Investigating whether a single dose of the MenB vaccine is enough to boost teenagers' immunity gained from infant MenB vaccination
Prof Andrew Pollard, Dr Christine Rollier, Dr Matthew Snape, Dr Christina Dold
Start Date
01 Jul 2017
University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
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In September 2015 the MenB vaccine was introduced in the UK for routine use in babies - the age group at highest risk of developing meningitis and/or septicaemia. 

Beyond five years of age, teenagers are the age-group most affected by this deadly disease. Despite this, the MenB vaccine was not introduced for teenagers. One reason for this decision was cost. 

Current evidence suggests that teenagers not previously vaccinated against MenB would need two doses of the vaccine to be protected. But over time, thanks to the infant programme, most children will have been vaccinated as babies. It is possible that when these children become teenagers, just one dose of the MenB vaccine would boost immunity enough to ensure protection. 

This would greatly reduce the cost of a teenage MenB programme and provide the opportunity to re-evaluate its cost-effectiveness.

The babies involved in the first clinical trials of the MenB vaccine, led by Oxford Vaccine Group, are now approaching adolescence. This unique group of children offers the first opportunity to investigate whether a single dose of MenB vaccine could successfully boost infant immunity.

About the project

In this study, researchers from Oxford Vaccine Group, will recruit children vaccinated in the original clinical trials. The team will also recruit children of the same age, who have not been vaccinated against MenB.

A blood sample will first be collected from each child to find out if those vaccinated against MenB as babies, have retained any protection. 

All children will then be vaccinated to enable the researchers to compare how the immune response differs between those who got the MenB vaccine in infancy and those who did not.

What will this achieve?

This study will provide the first ever data on:

  • Whether children approaching adolescence retain any protection against MenB from their infant vaccines 
  • Whether a single dose of the MenB vaccine is enough to boost immunity gained from infant vaccination

Ultimately, the results from this study will help develop a strategy to protect teenagers against MenB.

Generous donations from the Jessica Bethell Charitable Foundation

James and Sally Bethell’s daughter Jessica sadly died from meningococcal group b meningitis in October 2012, at the age of 24. They have since set up the Jessica Bethell Charitable Foundation and have raised impressive funds for charity in memory of Jessica.

The Jessica Bethell Charitable Foundation has very generously donated a further £12,000 to Meningitis Research Foundation to be put towards this research project that aims to better understand meningococcal meningitis and septicaemia. Over £68,000 was also received for the project as a result of a Three Peaks Challenge organised by Jessica's sister, Clare.

A cheque for that amount was presented to Professor Ray Borrow, one of the study investigators, at the Manchester Research Laboratories on Friday, 2 November 2018. This latest donation is in addition to a previous donations of £30,000 and £40,000 from the Jessica Bethell Charitable Foundation towards the same project, presented in previous years. 

Visit the Jessica Bethell Charitable Foundation

Meningococcal B: The main cause of bacterial meningitis in the UK and Ireland
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Liz Rodgers
Research Projects Manager

Hi, I’m Liz and I’m MRF's Research Projects Manager.

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