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Meningococcal vaccines

Polysaccharide meningococcal vaccines do not work in children under two years of age. However there are now several conjugate vaccines available that do work in infants and young children.

Meningitis B

A Men B (4CMenB) vaccine was licensed in Europe in January 2013 for babies and children from two months of age. It was added to the UK national immunisation schedule, at2,4 and 12 months, in 2015. It covers around three quarters of the Men B strains in the UK and nearly four fifths of those over Western Europe. It is one of the less effective vaccines; its use in the UK over several years has shown it to have an effectiveness of between 53% and 59%. This vaccine appears to commonly cause side-effects with most children being sore at the injection site, over a quarter severely so. Fever is also common and febrile convulsions (fits as a result of a fever) can also probably occur. Sleepiness, irritability and unusual crying also commonly occur. The vaccine may rarely cause Kawasaki disease (a rare auto-immune disease causing inflammation of the blood vessels) and nephrotic syndrome (a serious kidney disease). Side-effects are more likely to occur when the vaccine is given at the same time as other vaccines. For this reason we recommend that this vaccine always be given on its own and not in combination with any other vaccine. Please click here for a detailed information sheet on possible side-effects of the Men B vaccine.

Meningitis C

A Meningitis C vaccine was introduced into the UK in 1999. It is given in the UK national immunisation schedule at 3 months, 12 months and 12 years. It can also be given as a single dose from 12 months of age, an option preferred by several European countries. All the Men C vaccines contain aluminium. The older a child is vaccinated the fewer the number of doses required and the longer-lasting the protection is.

Meningitis ACWY

There is now a new aluminium-free Men ACWY vaccine available. it is licensed for young children and babies from 6 weeks of age. The NHS has introduced the Men ACWY vaccine for teenagers because of the increase in number of cases of W strain meningitis in the UK. However, as more children under 5 years of age contract W than teenagers we often recommend a single dose of this vaccine to infants. It is also recommended by the UK Department of Health for young children over two months of age travelling to areas where the strains of meningococcus contained in the vaccine are especially common. The vaccine provides good immunity when given as a single dose from 6 month of age. The vaccine protects against four types of meningococcal infection, providing a small increase in protection in the UK, but a large increase in protection for parts of the world where the three additional types cause a far greater proportion of meningococcal infections than they do in the UK. The vaccine includes protection against meningitis W, cases of which have been increasing over recent years in the UK.
The vaccines cause redness, swelling or tenderness in around 1 in 3 children. Some children develop a fever; irritability, drowsiness, difficulty in sleeping, loss of appetite and diarrhoea may all occasionally occur.

Hib-Men C

The Men C vaccine is also available combined with the Hib vaccine. This can be given as a primary course during the first year of life or given as a booster after 12 months of age (as it is on the NHS).

To download a detailed list of all the vaccines we offer including all their ingredients please follow this link